Cervical Spondylosis/facet arthritis/degeneration

Cervical spondylolysis is a degenerative condition like arthritis most often seen in people 40 and older. It occurs when the joints, discs, and ligaments in the neck degenerate over time, forming small bony spurs and thinning of the discs. The facet or Zygapophysial joints are the joint structures that connect the vertebrae to one another. The facet joint is like any other joint in your body – they have cartilage that lines the joint, (this allows the bone to glide smoothly over one another) and a capsule surrounding the joint. The function of the facet joint is to provide support, stability, and mobility to the vertebrae (spine). Facet Disease occurs when there is degeneration of the facet joint.

There are two facet joints between each vertebra. They are located on each side of the vertebrae. Facet disease can occur at any level of the spine.


Signs and symptoms

  • Numbness in the hands
  • Weakness in the arms
  • Grinding or crackling sound when moving neck
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Pain radiating to the arms and hands
  • Muscle spasms in the neck

Why it hurts

  • Cervical spondylolysis may compress nerves extending from cervical vertebrae or reduce the diameter of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and other nerves.The worn-out cartilage in the joints causes facet disease. This type of injury to the spine can be attributed to arthritis of the spine, work, over-use or an accident.

Non-surgical treatment options

  • Neck brace
  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Facet joint steroid injections
  • Medial branch blocks
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