Are you someone who is suffering from back and neck pain and are unsure of how to manage the pain? To accomplish this, you first need to understand what is causing the pain when considering a pain management doctor. This type of pain typically comes from the spine’s facet joints, leading to a condition called facet joint syndrome.
Here at St Louis Pain Consultants, we provide specialized treatment plans that best work for each patient. Today, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of facet joint syndrome as well as options on how to treat it.
What Are The Causes Of Facet Joint Syndrome
To begin describing what causes facet joint syndrome, we must first talk about where it commonly occurs. There are bones in your spine, called vertebrae, that are connected at the sides where your facet joints are. These joints, along with the spongy discs located between each vertebrae, allow for neck and back movement and provide stability.
Like with any of your body joints, your facet joints can become damaged and inflamed over time. This can happen due to these factors below.
- Excess tedious movements
- Poor posture
- Degenerative disc disease
With more pressure placed on the facet joints, the cartilage at your joints can wear down. This can cause you to develop bone spurs and inflame your facet joints. When that happens, pain and muscle spasms occur as a result.
What Are the Symptoms of Facet Joint Syndrome?
When it comes to facet joint syndrome, it’s most likely to occur in the neck or cervical spine. In addition, it also occurs in the lower back area or lumbar spine. Pain in these two facet joints may also spread into other areas like the shoulder, back, or arms. This can lead to headaches.
Other symptoms to watch for before you see a pain management doctor are listed below.
- Discomfort when leaning back
- Some degree of loss in the spinal muscle flexibility
- Pain that radiates into the upper back/trapezius, buttocks, or down the back of the upper leg
- A tenderness that overlies the inflamed facet joints
Also, sitting in one position for prolonged periods, like when driving, can worsen the pain too.
How Facet Joint Syndrome Is Diagnosed
As for diagnosing facet joint syndrome, your doctor will likely order imaging tests to check for any abnormal spine conditions. X-rays and CT scans can also track down changes in your facet joints. MRIs may also be used to rule out conditions like herniated discs that produce similar symptoms.
Facet joint injections with the use of steroid medications can also be used to detect your diagnosis. With the use of a fluoroscope, your doctor can insert a needle straight into the joint. If you feel pain relief after the injection, it can conclude that a facet joint is the source of your pain. Additionally, a local anesthetic block (medial branch block) of the sensory nerves that supply the facet joint can be performed to help diagnose facet mediated pain.
Consult with a Pain Management Doctor For Treatment Options
As for treatment options, many non-surgical and surgical options exist. Of course, it all depends on what works best for the needs of each patient.
For some, it could mean physical therapy and medication to relieve pressure on your facet joints and improve body mechanics. In some cases, it could mean radiofrequency ablation to help address the nerve causing the pain. For cases related to persistent pain, it could mean surgery.
If you believe you’re suffering from facet joint syndrome, then it’s advised that you schedule a consultation with a pain management doctor today. At St Louis Pain Consultants, we’ll establish a targeted plan that works best for you and helps put you on the road to recovery.