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Back and neck pain can begin in many different ways. A common cause of these aches and pains that we see in our office is facet joint syndrome. Facet joint syndrome is a condition that affects the facet joints within the spinal column. They may become injured, inflamed, or swollen. This often causes difficulties bending, twisting or turning the neck and back.
You may not have heard of them before, but facet joints play an important role in spine function. At the back of each spinal segment there are 2 facet joints. They provide a guide for spinal movement and motion, controlling how far your back can move and twist. Facet joints are also the exit way for nerves to leave the spinal cord and spread throughout the rest of the body. They also provide protection for the spinal cord as well as these emerging nerves.
Many factors can lead to facet joint syndrome. For instance, age, disease, overuse and injury can all cause back and neck pain due to the condition.
A degenerative disease like arthritis may also contribute to facet joint syndrome. This occurs when the thin layer of cartilage encasing the facet joints begins to wear down and deteriorate. Without this protective cartilage cushioning, the vertebrae are likely to grind against itself, which is a common cause of back and neck aches.
Injury and trauma are other common lead-ups to facet joint syndrome. High-contact sports, such as football and rugby, or those who are involved in dance or gymnastics place at a higher risk for the condition. Typically, we advise that if you are involved with a physically demanding sport, you should be extremely cautious and attentive to proper technique and body positioning or postural changes.
Facet joint syndrome generally causes pain felt in the thoracic and lumbar region of the back as well as the neck. The pain may be gradual and slow, but some have also noted pain being striking suddenly without a sign or warning. You may be doing a regular daily activity like putting on your shoe when an acute pain strikes. Generally, pain is intensified by extension or rotation of the neck or back. It may also be felt in the back muscles, but does not extend down to the extremities like your legs or arms.
If any of these experiences sound familiar, it is possible that you have facet joint syndrome. A doctor will be able to give you a proper diagnosis with a physical and history exam as well as imaging studies.
After a diagnosis, it’s time to seek out treatment. Stem Cell Center of NJ offers a minimally invasive, out-patient stem cell therapy procedure that can treat facet joint syndrome and ultimately your back pain. If you would like to know more, please contact us at 732-548-2000.