Lumbar facet syndrome is the term used to describe the pain associated with arthritis of the facet joints within the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine. The flexible and weight-bearing lumbar region is the most common site for deterioration of the facet joints. Facet joints are sliding joints containing articular surfaces covered with cartilage and surrounded by a thick capsule supplying lubricating fluid to ensure smooth comfortable motion. While the causes of facet syndrome are obscure, it is known that the aging process is a factor and people age 50 and older are far more likely to develop the condition.
Conservative Treatment for Lumbar Facet Syndrome
Facet joint deterioration can lead to the development of bone spurs (osteophytes), which grow along the edges of the facet joint near intervertebral canals, which allow passage of spinal nerves. In the lower back, if these spurs come into contact with adjacent nerve roots and/or the component nerves of the sciatic nerve, it can produce pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness in the buttocks, legs, and feet. Treatment usually begins conservatively, with a combination of the following methods:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Exercise to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and increase blood flow
- Behavior modification to improve body mechanics and posture
- Radiofrequency neurotomy to “deaden” the affected joint nerve
- Medial branch nerve block injections
If chronic symptoms persist despite several weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may be indicated.
Minimally Invasive Treatment for Lumbar Facet Syndrome
Rather than expose themselves to the risks and long recovery periods inherent to traditional open back surgery, thousands of patients have found effective relief from symptoms associated with lumbar facet syndrome at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today to learn the details about how our orthopedic specialists use innovative endoscopic techniques to treat neck and back pain with minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.