Facet Joint Syndrome Treatments

Treatment for facet joint syndrome should begin conservatively, and be designed to first treat the disease without any surgical intervention. Initial treatment begins with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve any swelling and inflammation that is causing pain. Ice can also aid in this, but heat should be avoided for the first 48 - 72 hours since it will cause more inflammation in the area. After 72 hours, heat is introduced as it increases blood flow and encourages healing.

If initial treatments fail to provide favorable results, activity modification, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatments are often the next step in finding relief. Physical therapy helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your spine, while activity modification helps you avoid placing too much strain on the facet joint.

In addition to the above treatments, rest, the use of a back brace, strength training, low-impact stretching exercises, swimming, and posture corrections are also good facet disease treatment options that are also good for overall back health. For the neck, a restraining collar, supportive neck pillow, or cervical traction may bring temporary relief when used alongside other treatments.

Facet joint disease treatment can be very successful in alleviating pain and discomfort, and an accurate diagnosis is critical to a successful treatment. An improper diagnosis may lead to an improper treatment option being prescribed, which can exacerbate the facet joint syndrome and may potentially cause recurring lower back problems.

Surgery for Facet Joint Syndrome

If the condition has not improved after 6-8 weeks of conservative treatment, surgery or activity modification may be considered.

Facet syndrome surgery can be performed as an open procedure, during which the surgeon cuts open the skin to gain access to the troubled joint. For patients who have not found adequate relief with conservative treatments, spinal fusion, for example, is often recommended as an open back surgery. Open spinal fusion, however, requires large incisions, the use of general anesthesia, and a long recovery coupled with months of physical therapy. Furthermore, after a spinal fusion, the patient may lose certain spinal motion.

Endoscopic Facet Joint Surgery (Endoscopic Facet Rhizotomy)

With our state-of-the-art technology at Atlantic Spine Center, facet syndrome surgery may be performed using an endoscope, which means the surgeon makes a small incision to insert special surgical tools. During an endoscopic facet rhizotomy a tiny camera is used to see inside your joint and perform the surgery while it is visualized on a monitor. Because the procedure is so minimally invasive it is performed under local anesthetic and requires only a very small incision (7 mm).