Facet joint Arthritis

Facet joint Arthritis

Facet joints, also called zygapophyseal joints, are located at the back of the spine. There are two joints between each pair of vertebrae located on either side of the spine. The facet joints provide stability to the spine and allow motion.

Facet joint arthritis is related to the aging process. Facet joints are synovial joints. Normally the facet joints and are lined by a cartilage and a membrane of synovium.

Loss of cartilage and synovial fluid in these joints causes friction due to contact between the bones. This results in development of osteophytes or bone spurs in or around the facet joints. Bone spurs are the bony growths formed along the edges of the bones.

Classical symptoms are pain and swelling around the joint. If a cervical joint is affected, the pain is usually felt over the neck radiating to the shoulder or to the head. If the joint is in the back, the pain is felt across the lower back.

A diagnosis of facet joint arthritis is confirmed by injecting a small amount of a combination of X-ray contrast material, local anesthesia and corticosteroid into the joint. Relief from pain after the injection confirms the diagnosis of facet joint arthritis.

In most cases, symptoms can be managed using conservative line of management such as pain medication, use of braces, exercise, and corticosteroid injections. Radiofrequency nerve ablation can help treat refractory pain from facet arthrosis and is provided at PSSP.

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