FAQs on Facet Syndrome and Back Pain Treatment in Oklahoma
Facet joint syndrome is a painful condition that affects the human spine. This condition leads to long-standing or chronic back pain. According to experts, many people with chronic lower back pain suffer from facet joint arthritis.
What are facet joints?
Facet joints are the tiny joints between every pair of vertebrae (spinal bones). There is a joint on each side of the spinal vertebra, and these joints help with spinal range of motion and stability. Facet joints ensure a proper connection between the vertebra and the one below it and above it. Each facet joint contains cartilage and a capsule of synovial fluid, which cushions and supports the joint.
How common is facet joint syndrome?
Low back pain is the most common symptom reported by Americans during primary care visits. The National Institute of Health Statistics found that 27% of people with pain have low back pain. In addition, facet joint problems cause around 40% of low back pain problems. However, isolated facet joint pain affects around 4% of the general population.
What causes pain with facet joint syndrome?
Facet joints are supplied by nerve roots, which arise from the spinal cord. Facet joint pain can lead to decreased quality of life. This syndrome also impacts spine function and normal movement. Facet joint syndrome pain occurs when a joint is damaged or diseased. This can be associated with arthritis, where inflammatory molecules are released, and there is wearing of the cartilage.
What causes facet joint syndrome?
Experts believe that around 20% of chronic back pain is related to facet joint syndrome. People age 45 years or older are more likely to have facet joint disease. Many conditions are associated with facet joint syndrome, such as:
- Back strain and stress
- Spinal injuries
- Wear-and-tear of cartilage
- Blunt-force injuries sustained in events such as falls or motor vehicle collision
How is facet joint syndrome treated?
There are many treatment options for persistent back pain, and discomfort associated with facet joint syndrome. The pain management specialist may use a combination of therapies for the patient, which include:
- Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with facet joint syndrome. For severe pain, opioids are used short-term. Other drugs used for the pain include antidepressants (amitriptyline) and anticonvulsants (gabapentin).
- Physical therapy – The patient is trained to stretch, exercise, and condition the affected areas to alleviate injury and strain.
- Medial branch nerve blocks – The medial branch nerves that supply the facet joints can be injected to block pain signal transmission.
- Stem cell injections – Mesenchymal stem cells are injected into the joints of patients with spinal pain. Because the stem cells come from the patient’s own bone marrow or adipose tissue, the patient is not at risk for immune rejection or adverse rejection.
Does stem cell therapy work?
Stem cell therapy is being used to treat chronic back pain. In both animal and human studies, stem cell therapy is showing positive results. In a recent pilot study, mesenchymal stem cells were used in 10 patients with chronic back pain disorders. Of the patients, all had significant reductions in disability and pain at the 12-month follow-up.
- Orozco L, Soler R, Morera C, Alberca M, Sánchez A, García-Sancho J. Intervertebral disc repair by autologous mesenchymal bone marrow cells: a pilot study. Transplantation. 2011;92(7):822-828.
- Richardson SM, Hoyland JA, Mobasheri R, Csaki C, Shakibaei M, Mobasheri A. Mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine: opportunities and challenges for articular cartilage and intervertebral disc tissue engineering. J Cell Physiol. 2010;222(1):23-32.