Facet Syndrome & Facet Disease

Facets are the smooth, flat surfaces of the vertebrae that interlock and allow the spine to flex. Facet joints permit gliding movements between the vertebrae. These joints are in constant motion, providing the spine with the stability and flexibility needed to walk, run, bend, sit and twist.

As we age, the cartilage that lines the facet joint surfaces, allowing them to glide easily over one another, gradually wears away, and in many cases growths called bone spurs can develop. Friction between the bones can cause tenderness, swelling, stiffness and arthritis. Though generally the result of the natural aging process, the initial cause of arthritis, or facet syndrome, may also be an injury or overuse of the joints in youth. While facet syndrome can occur at any level of the spine, it is most common in the lower back or lumbar region.

facet joint syndrome

Types of Facet Syndrome

There are a number of terms used to describe facet joint problems or facet disease

In general, all of these terms mean the same thing; arthritis or degeneration of the facet joints, including:

Degenerative facet joints: refers to the condition caused by degeneration and deterioration of the small joints of the spine due to the aging process. Degenerative facet joints mostly happen in the lower back, resulting in radiating pain in that area. Degeneration of facet joints may result in facet disease or facet arthritis.

Facet arthritis: refers to the condition caused by arthritic changes and inflammation that can develop in spine joints. Arthritis of the facet joints usually results in “ referred pain” – i.e. the pain is perceived at a location other than the actual site of the problem.

Facet hypertrophy: refers to the condition caused by enlargement of one or more facet joints. One way that the human body responds to the aging process and degeneration of the spine, is the enlargement of the facet joints to counteract the lost stability caused by degeneration. This enlargement can put pressure on the nearby nerves and therefore cause radiating pain. Facet hypertrophy mainly occurs in the lumbar region of the spine.

The Bonati Spine Institute encourages patients with facet syndrome to contact us to request a no-obligation MRI review or discuss your conditions with our medical professionals. Find out why The Bonati Spine Procedures are considered to be among the world’s best solutions when it comes to advanced spine surgery. Your pain from facet syndrome can become a thing of the past.