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:
- Muscle pain and inflammation
- Localized pain
- Clicking of bones/ligaments when bending or rotating
- Pain in limbs
- A “knot” in the muscle
- Severe arm or leg spasms
Why it hurts:
- 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. Another cause of Facet Disease is spondylolisthesis, which is when one vertebra slips forward in relation to an adjacent vertebra, usually in the lumbar spine.
Non-surgical treatment options
- Physical therapy
- Manipulative therapy
- Pain medication
- Facet joint steroid injections
- Medial branch blocks
- Radiofrequency ablation of the medial branches