Spine facet joints are important hinges facing the back of our bodies, away from the abdomen. These joints not only make sure that we can move our necks and backs fluidly and painlessly, but they are also in charge of joining each vertebra together so that the structural integrity of the spine is maintained.
Like any joint in our body, spine facet joints can get “creaky” as we get older. This could mean that the cartilage covering the joint becomes brittle and wears away. With cartilage padding gone, our back and neck movements literally force bone to grind against bone, which can be extremely painful. Because a facet joint is full of nerve fibers (called medial branch nerves), these joints are especially vulnerable to discomfort.
Problems with the spine facet joints can occur in any region of the spine, but the lumbar region is the most common site of malfunctioning facet joints. Because your lower back is the source of so much bending and twisting, and because it is forced to support so much weight, its spine facet joints are usually hit the hardest by degenerative conditions. The lumbar region contains five vertebrae, labeled L1-L5, each of which contains a vertebral body, a vertebral arch, two facet joint sets, and open canals that act as neural pathways. Because the nerves of the lumbar spine control sensory impulses for the legs, feet, and buttocks, diseased facet joints in the lower back can cause symptoms in all of these areas, the most common of which is sciatica. Sciatica is characterized as sharp or burning pain that shoots from the lower back all the way down the bottom of the feet due to compression of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the entire body.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome, facet joint degeneration, or other conditions involving the spine facet joints, you may want to contact the experts at Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Our minimally invasive procedures are designed to treat spinal joints on an outpatient basis, translating into benefits such as a fast recovery period and low risk. Please contact us today for more information about our institute, and to receive a free MRI or CT scan review.