Could The Pain Be Joint Related?
There seem to be numerous reasons for back pain. Every day, doctors see patients due to muscular issues, spinal issues, or a combination of both. At some point, 8 in 10 adults will consider seeing a doctor for low back pain. The doctor may talk about joint pain, namely, facet joint syndrome or arthritis. If this condition comes up, then there are some treatment options.
What are the facet joints anyway?
The facet joints are a critical component of the spine, with each vertebra having two facet joints. These small pieces connect the top and bottom vertebrae, helping to give the spine the long shape. Facet joints also allow the vertebrae to move up, down, and side to side. This is important for bending and twisting the torso. The bones may be small but are very important for movement.
Facet joint syndrome and arthritis
Because the numerous facet joints work together daily to help with movement, wear and tear can happen. Over time, the wear and tear of the joint and cartilage lead to arthritis. Arthritis can create tiny bone spurs, called facet joint syndrome. The situation becomes worse with conditions like degenerative discs or spinal stenosis.
Can the condition cause low back pain?
The damaged facet joints can press on surrounding nerves causing numbness and tingling. These joints then struggle to move smoothly, increasing inflammation. Back pain can slowly develop over the years and eventually affect daily activities. Because the facet joint spurs touch nerves, persons may feel muscle pain, lower back stiffness, and spasms.
Relieving the pain with medication
Facet joint syndrome can present as many other back and spine problems. The doctor, therefore, must complete a full scan to prove the issue using x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. In most cases, arthritis pain relief is the first step to treatment. The doctor may administer a corticosteroid injection to the affected area. Injections can reduce pain for 6 months or more. The doctor can then prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to take when needed.
Physical therapy and lifestyle
Even with medication, persons may still feel pain. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Using regular stretches and exercises, therapy can strengthen the surrounding muscles and bones. Physical therapy can be an ongoing process, but that’s not all. Simple lifestyle changes, including proper diet, exercise, and restricting smoking, can help manage pain and strengthen the joints.
Other possible forms of treatment
In most cases, medication and therapy help with arthritic pain. If there are still months of pain, a medical professional can try radiofrequency ablation or RFA. Using radiofrequency, the doctor applies heat to the nerves affected by facet joint syndrome. This heat sears off parts of the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain. There are different types of RFA, and the doctor will use the best technique that’s available. RFA is a long-term solution to the pain with results lasting years. If all else fails, the doctor may have no choice but to perform spinal fusion surgery.
Pain management is possible
Arthritis formed by facet joint syndrome can be painful. While the issue happens with age, younger persons may still be at risk. In most cases, pain relief comes from medication, steroid injections, and healthy choices. If the joints have degraded too much, then the doctor may need to try more invasive options. Persons feeling constant lower back pain should speak with a doctor for treatment immediately.