Facet syndrome affects the facet joints that cause the pain in the back. The facet joints are responsible for the spinal motion. They are located in the lumber spine. The main function of facet joints is to prevent the excessive spine motion and its rotation. In a way the facet joint fixates the lumber and cervical spine and ensures its proper function. Consequently, there are two types of this disease: lumbar facet syndrome and cervical facet syndrome. Approximately 60% of facet syndrome originate in the cervical veterbrae and another 40% - in the lumbar.
Facet joints are very important, as they support the person when he bends and rotates. Moreover, if the person tilts forward, the facet joints helps the spine to bend and come back in its position without any complications. The facet symptom may consequently lead to the osteoarthritis and other spinal diseases. The osteoarthritis is also called the spondylosis. Facet syndrome is more wide-spread among the elderly, who were leading the sedatory lifestyle. If the person does not move enough, his muscles stiffen and without exercise they may begin the inflamatory process. The first person who described correctly the nature of the facet was a scientist and doctor Ghormley. He then stated that the cause of facet syndrome is the irritation of muscles and nerve endings.
In most cases when the spine is normal and not damaged in any way, there is a certain range of motion in its joints. If these joints can not rotate and are inflexible, a patient has the so called “facet syndrome”. It usually happens because of the damage done to the spinal canal, when there are certain dysfuntions of nerve cells in the different parts of the spine.
Anatomically speaking, the facet joints have a bilateral location, which means that they face each other. They contain a special synovial fluid, which lubricates and protects the spine against abrasion. Each facet joint has the multiude of the nerve endings that control the motion of the spine.
As a rule, the vertebrae and facet joints move simultaneously. If the nerve endings of the facet joint are damaged, the person feels pain in the back along the spine. The inflamed areas have the tendency to swell. The condition of the patient may become severe to the point of accumulating the arthritis.
In order to cure the facet syndrome, doctors use the methods that can relax the spinal muscles and make them more flexible, To achieve this result, they usually choose the manual therapy, as it can relieve the tension of the muscles and alleviate the condition of the patient, if he feels discomfort in the cervical and lumbar spine. Sometimes facet syndrome causes so much pain that the patient can not sit, walk and stand for a long time, therefore it requires correct and timely treatment. The problem is that it is difficult to diagnose facet syndrome, so the patient requires to undergo a number of tests and observations. Primary facet joint symptoms are similar to the damages of the herniated disc and vertebral fractures, because they all ae in the group of infectious and inflammatory diseases. Nevertheless, they all require different treatment options, that`s why it`s so important to understand the exact nature of the infection. The diagnosis is formed on the basis of the patient's complaints, his initial medical history, examination and palpation of the inflamed areas. During the examination, the doctor looks at the range of person`s ability to bend and rotate. He also inspects the reflexes and the location of the painful areas. It is important to determine the muscle strength and the level of its stretching. If the period of severe pain happens more often than once per month, the patient undergoes the X-ray, where the doctor can examine the state of facet joints. He can also use the contrast radiography to see facet joints more clearly and to track any changes of the nerve endings.
The pain during the facet syndrome may be local or radiating, which mens that it can spread to other parts of the back and affect ear, hand and leg ligaments.
Treatment for facet syndrome has a multi-faceted character. In order to reduce the swelling and inflammation, the doctor administers the small doses of local anesthetics and corticosteroids. If the pain was removed by anesthetics, it means that the diagnose was was right. Sometimes the patient is also prescribed with pain-killers to alleviate the symptoms. Usually such pain-killers and local anesthetics are sold over the counter.
Physiotherapy is a more conservative facet syndrome treatment. To have a beneficial effect it must be practiced for a long period of time systematically and regularly. Different physiotherapy techniques can not only relieve pain and inflammation, but also improve the state of nerve endings, so that infuture there will no remission. Physiotherapy as facet syndrome treatment is usually conducted with other preventive measures, such as the correction of lifestyle, normalization of the regime of the day and reduction of long shifts at work. Physiotherapy also includes special exercises in the swimming pool, when the spine stretches and relaxes in the water. Such sessions in the swimming pool must be conducted at least twice per work for a year, so that they could bring visible result. Some patients go to the gym, where they also exercise on a special ball. It is also recommended for the patients to move as much as possible during the moderate jogging or power walking. The bed rest over 2 days may have a destructive effect on the muscles, which need to be constantly enervated and stimulated.
Manual therapy can remove the pain in the affected area, but it can rarely cure the reason of the disease. Manual therapy may be used only as an addition to conservative therapy and drugs. It can also be repeated once or twice per year after the patient undergoes the course of physiotherapy.
Patients with facet syndrome may choose to sleep on an orthopedic matrass. If their condition is too severe, they can use the neck collar to fixate the neck muscle. It can help reduce the degree of discomfort and tiredness.
As for the surgical methods for facet syndrome treatment the doctors use the rhizotomy, during which they blockade the nerves facet joints with cold or heat. The cold and heat are transmitted to the joints with the help of X-ray equipment. It may seem strange, but doctors may use the Botox to reduce the spasms, as it is well-known that Botox cements the nerve endings. If the intervertebral discs are damaged, the doctors also conduct the surgery to diminish the number of affected nerve endings.Hide
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