Facet Syndrome, also called Facet Joint Syndrome, is a common cause of back, mid-back and neck pain. Facet joints are the small joints located between each vertebra that provide your spine with both stability and flexibility. These joints are in constant motion as you navigate through your daily work and leisure activities. Routine movements of walking, running, sitting, twisting, or bending all engage your facet joints throughout your spine. The facet joint surfaces are lined with cartilage allowing them to glide easily over each other. The joint can be become damaged from an injury, inflammation or a degenerative condition, such as arthritis. Arthritis typically begins as the cartilage lining the joint surface shrinks and wears thin, causing stress on the bone, inflammation and enlargement of the joint. Boney over-growths called “bone spurs” can develop. Any of these occurrences will cause friction between the bones resulting in tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and pain. Often this causes your muscles to work harder to protect the injured area, making them go into spasm or become very tense and stiff. Although Facet Syndrome is generally the result of the natural aging process, the initial cause of Facet Syndrome, may be an injury such as a fall or car accident.
The symptoms of Facet Syndrome may begin as an ache in your neck or back that comes and goes. Then over time the pain increases and lasts longer and you often notice a loss of flexibility. Stretching, rotating or twisting your back sometimes increases the pain. Most patients find that the pain is worse at the start and end of the day, or with weather changes. The pain in your back is typically at the waist level and can radiate into your buttocks, pelvis or thighs. The neck pain you experience can radiate into your shoulders, arms and head, causing a headache and even aches behind your eyes. As you move you hear “bone on bone” sounds. Sitting or riding in a car for a long period of time can make you feel quite a bit worse.
Treatment for Facet Syndrome begins with physical therapy that uses therapeutic exercise, stretching, and postural adjustment to improve alignment, increase strength and range of motion. While therapy generally improves strength and mobility, for many patients neck and back pain is persistent. For pain that is resistant to therapy, facet joint injections are helpful in minimizing the discomfort and pain experienced with Facet Syndrome. Traditional Facet joint injections use cortisone and local anesthetic. These injections are useful for establishing the diagnosis of Facet Syndrome and identifying exactly which joints are painful. They also can provide relief that may last weeks to months but relief is usually time limited. For longer lasting relief, radiofrequency ablation which destroys the nerve supplying sensation to the joints identified as painful can be performed. This is a destructive procedure that, while providing relief, also results in loss of muscle tissue and small areas of skin sensation.
To learn more and get help for Facet Syndrome please Schedule an Appointment with Regenerative Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialist Daniel Southern, M.D. in Danbury or Wilton in Fairfield County Connecticut by calling 203-456-5717.
Even when facet joint injections are successful, patients often report that they still suffer from pain and a loss of flexibility and are unable to resume comfortable work and lifestyle activities or participate in the athletic and sports activities they wish to enjoy. Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine treatments for Facet Syndrome use your body’s repair mechanisms to heal degenerated or damaged facet joint tissue. By using Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine injections of stem cells and/or platelet rich plasma directly into the joint using advanced imaging techniques it is possible to suppress degenerative processes within the joint and stimulate a healing microenvironment that promotes joint repair and growth. These are same-day procedures done in less than an hour with minimal discomfort and little or no down time. The muscles around the joint will begin to relax as a result, and you can return to the normal range of motion and flexibility experienced before the onset of Facet Syndrome. Patients often begin to feel better within a week but the greatest effect usually takes 2-3 months.
Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine treatments with stem cells and platelet rich plasma offer the possibility of healing damaged and degenerated facet joint tissues to help you retune to a comfortable, active and productive lifestyle by improving stiffness, pain and joint function with greater mobility.
To learn more about stem cell treatment, platelet rich plasma (PRP) or alpha-2 macroglobulin and get help for Facet Syndrome please Schedule an Appointment with Regenerative Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialist Daniel Southern, M.D. in Danbury or Wilton in Fairfield County Connecticut by calling 203-456-5717.
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