WHAT IS FACET JOINTS ARTHROPATHY?

Facet joints are small joints in the back of the human spine. These joints allow bending and twisting movements of the spine. Facet joints can get injured due to trauma or become arthritic due to wear and tear and age. Facet joint is more common in elderly people.

HOW IS FACET JOINT PAIN FELT?

Facet joint arthropathy is more common in the elderly population. It can occur in younger people due to injury / trauma. Facet Joint pain is common in lower back (lumbar) region.

The pain is usually in the lower backs, buttocks, back & side of the thighs. The pain may increases on bending back and lateral rotation. Back pain may be worse in the morning with stiffness.

HOW IS FACET JOINT PAIN CONFIRMED?

Your pain physician will first examine your back thoroughly after hearing the history of back pain. He may ask for an blood tests, X – ray, CT or MRI of the lumbar spine to diagnose the source of your pain accurately. CT or MRI pictures may show facet joint arthropathy. To confirm the diagnosis, your pain physician may offer a diagnostic facet joint injection.

HOW IS FACET JOINT PAIN TREATMENT?

  • Initial therapy may include pain killers, NSAIDS (short course), muscle relaxants, etc.
  • Physical therapy and spine strengthening exercises are useful in reducing facet joint pain.
  • Facet joint injections: The best treatment for joints pain is facet joint injections. These procedures are done under X- ray guidance on a day care basis and are safe. Your pain physician may decide to do a facet joint injection itself or radio frequency treatment for the nerves supplying the facet joints. These procedures are done under IV sedation and local anesthesia and last about 30-40 mins. They are usually covered by medical insurance.