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Arthritis in the Facet Joints

Facet Syndrome
Facet Injuries Can Strike Abruptly

Arthritis with degeneration, also referred to as osteoarthritis, is caused during breakdown of the bone and cartilage of the spine from the normal wear and tear that comes with age. Arthritis can occur in different areas of the spine causing debilitating neck or low back problems but, among the different types of osteoarthritis, facet joint arthritis is one of the most common of all the lumbar spine conditions through degeneration.

The facet joints are aligned on the back of the spinal column, linking each vertebra together. The joints are covered with articular cartilage that function jointly with the spinal disc spaces between each vertebra to allow movement and flexibility on the spine. Although, like other joints in the body covered with articular cartilage, the facet joint cartilage will breakdown as a result of degeneration which makes them more prone to be affected by arthritis.



Normal facet joints naturally fit snugly together in between each vertebra, smoothly gliding without any friction or pressure but when stress begins to build where the joints meet, the articular cartilage on the surface eventually wears off. Facet joint arthritis is also caused as a result of a previous back injury. Degenerative or herniated disc problems, fractures, and ruptured ligaments cause an abnormal misalignment of the spine, adding extra stress and pressure on the surfaces of the joints.

Constant low back pain is usually the most notable resulting symptom of facet joint arthritis. Other symptoms of the condition include loss of flexibility and mobility of the spine and pain or discomfort that radiates down into the buttocks and down the back of the leg due to the local inflammation and swelling of the joints. If your symptoms become persistent and increase to an impairing degree, it might be time to consult your specialist.

Dr. Jimenez advices on the treatment protocols for facet joint arthritis consisting of adjustment and manipulations techniques such as the cox flexion distraction technique among others, followed by the appropriate stretches and exercises that will be best for you. 


By Dr. Alex Jimenez

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