What is Facet Joint Disease?

Facet Joint SyndromeFacet joint disease is typically caused by natural wear and tear on the body due to age. As the joints wear down and inflammation sets in, we are put at risk for problems such as bone spurs and facet joint arthritis. Facet joint disease may also result from a particular trauma, injury, or predisposition to weak or easily atrophied joints. For back pain relief, conservative treatment options would be implemented before recommending spinal fusion or a less invasive endoscopic procedure.

Facet Joint Disease Symptoms

Facet joint disease often causes pain intermittently with episodes coming as frequent as a few times a month. The area affected will be tender to the touch. Symptoms may be felt in the buttocks and down the back of the thigh if the affected joint is in the lower back or lumbar spine, and in the shoulders and upper arms if in the neck, also known as the cervical spine.

How is Facet Joint Disease Diagnosed?

Your physician would thoroughly evaluate your symptoms to diagnose lumbar or cervical facet joint disease. If they were consistent with the symptoms above, for example, if you only felt pain in the affected area when leaning backwards, then you might be diagnosed with facet joint disease.

Facet Joint Disease Treatment Options

At our comprehensive spine center we develop a treatment plan tailored to your spinal diagnosis, However, since your treatment involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified spine surgeon performs the procedure. Every physician at our comprehensive spine center is a board certified spinal surgeon.


Depending on the severity of the facet joint disease, an initial conservative treatment plan for back pain relief would include hot and cold therapy, activity modifications and exercises that target the affected area. Additionally, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and anti-inflammatory medicine would be used to relieve back pain.  


In severe cases, a spinal fusion procedure may be recommended for treatment of  joint facet disease. Your physician may also recommend an endoscopic facet rhizotomy which is a minimally invasive laser spine procedure performed under local anesthesia, requiring a small incision.

If you need more information about this condition, feel free to visit our spine educational videos page or contact us to speak to a spine specialist.