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Facet Joint Arthropathy

The Facet joints are the joint structures that connect the vertebrae to one another. The function of the facet joint is to provide support, stability, and mobility to the vertebrae (spine). Facet Disease occurs when there is degeneration of the facet joint.There are two facet joints between each vertebrae. They are located on each side of the vertebrae. Facet disease can occur at any level of the spine, but are most common in the lumbar region. Symptoms related to facet joint problems are usually localized to the area of the facet joint. This can occur in the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back).When the facets are affected in the lumbar region, a person can experience lower back pain that can go to the buttocks and upper thigh area. If the area affected is cervical, then pain can occur in the back of the neck and radiate to the top of the shoulders, and can radiate around the neck.

When considering conservative methods of treatment for the pain and symptoms being caused by facet disease there are several options. Initially the treatment of the facet disease will involve the patient avoiding the movements and motions such as lifting, extension of the lumbar spine or repetitive twisting that are causing the joints to be painful. Strengthening and stretching exercises aimed at improving the strength and endurance of muscles in the lumbar spine region along with a course of anti-inflammatory medications is often the initial approach.