Pain Management Options for Facet Syndrome

The facet joint is a part of each vertebrae within the spine that links each disc to one another and allows for proper flexion as a person twists or bends. There are two facet joints that exist at the back of the spinal discs, which are normally protected by a layer of cartilage and synovial fluid. If these natural components begin to break down, the joint can often begin to grind along other bones in the spine, leading to significant levels of chronic pain.

Facet syndrome can result from expected wear and tear as a person matures in age, and can be exacerbated through intense movements or repeated strain on the spine. Many individuals will receive a diagnosis of facet syndrome after discussing their medical history and symptoms their doctor. Imaging tests may also be ordered to obtain a clear visual of the spine to determine how severe degeneration of the joint really is.

Fact Syndrome Pain Management from Pain Management Partners

Lifestyle Changes

Individuals can reduce pain caused by facet syndrome, and also work to prevent it from ever occurring by adopting a few simple habits in their everyday lives, including:

  • Using correct posture: Keeping the spine properly aligned is a great start to avoid any problems caused by facet syndrome. If the spine is curved as intended, there is less chance that the vertebrae will connect with one another.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese puts an intense amount of unnecessary pressure on the body. This does not just pertain to the spine, but can also put individuals at a higher risk for several different medical conditions and injuries.
  • Applying heat or cold to the area: Utilizing a hot or cold compress can help to reduce inflammation as well as dull any pain caused by facet syndrome. These application periods should last for approximately 20 minutes each, and may be used several times a day as needed.
  • Being more mindful: Try to build in more breaks throughout your day to avoid sitting or standing in the same position for extended amounts of time. Getting up to stretch at least once or twice during the workday can offer an incredible amount of relief to the spine.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications: Just like applying hot or cold packs to the spine, anti-inflammatories can quickly reduce any areas of swelling around the facet joint.

Other Medications

In addition to over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, our office may prescribe topical creams, muscle relaxers, or recommend supportive devices to help patients manage their joint pain.

Physical Therapy

Working with a specialist like the experts at Pain Management Partners to manipulate the spine can be very beneficial to those struggling with painful symptoms of facet syndrome. During these sessions, patients will be asked to complete multiple exercises designed to strengthen muscles within the back that can provide much-needed support to the spine, and practice how to properly complete everyday activities to avoid further damage to their facet joints.

Steroid Injections

A corticosteroid can be combined with an analgesic-numbing agent to create an injectable solution that quickly reduces swelling around the nerves of the spine. It can be difficult to estimate how frequently an individual will need repeated steroid injections, as every case is unique. However, most should expect their pain to subside for at least a few weeks, while others can be hopeful that their injection lasts for several years.

Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation

If a patient continues to experience chronic bouts of pain caused by facet joint syndrome, we may suggest that they undergo a minimally invasive procedure called nerve radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This process uses a thin electrode that is inserted into the spine to target the nerves around the facet joint(s) responsible for the patient’s symptoms. The electrode emits an intense amount of heat to ablate the nerves and destroy their sensitivity, making it impossible for the person to feel pain when these specific nerves are compressed by the facet joint.

Contact Pain Management Partners for a Consultation

To learn more about pain management techniques used to treat facet syndrome, or to discuss your symptoms with a specialist in Eugene, OR, please contact Pain Management Partners today at (541) 344-8469 to schedule an appointment with our providers!