How is Facet Joint Arthritis Treated?

The facet joints are the joints at the back of the spine that help move the spine and allow the spine to safely bend and twist. The nerves that send signals to other parts of the body also exit through small holes in these joints. Healthy facet joints are lined with cartilage that allows the joints to move smoothly without rubbing against one another.

Facet joint arthritis is the wear and tear of this cartilage due to age, injury or the arthritic process. Pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion and sciatic pain are common symptoms.

At Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, our Board Certified Spine Specialists use numerous nonsurgical and minimally invasive treatment options to treat facet joint arthritis. Below are some of the most common options.

Facet Joint Arthritis: Nonsurgical Treatment Options

An early facet joint arthritis diagnosis is always best as early treatment can prevent the symptoms from becoming worse. Nonsurgical treatment options are prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Treatment options can include:

  • Rest and activity modification
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Immobilization (a brace)

Using nonsurgical options, symptoms are monitored and pain relief can occur quickly, especially when treatment options like NSAIDs and physical therapy are combined.

Our goal is to get you back to an active and pain-free lifestyle using a treatment plan customized to you.

Facet Joint Arthritis: Injections and Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

Injections are often a popular treatment option and can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as physical therapy. At Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, all injections are performed under fluoroscopic X-ray guidance to ensure accuracy.

During the injection, a small needle is carefully guided to the osteoarthritic facet joint and steroid and anaesthetic medications are injected into the joint. The steroid decreases inflammation while the anaesthetic immediately decreases pain.

An injection procedure is quick—there is no downtime or recovery. A mild sedative and local anaesthetic ensure no pain or discomfort is felt.

A nerve block treats a compressed spinal nerve caused by facet joint arthritis. During the injection, a small needle is guided to the compressed nerve. An anesthetic medication is injected to decrease inflammation of the nerve and help to stop pain signals to the brain.

A facet rhizotomy is performed when injections and nerve blocks are no longer effective. Heat and radio frequency signals safely deaden nerves that send pain signals to the brain.

Minimally invasive spine surgery can be utilized in the rare instances where other more conservative treatments have not been effective. There are a variety of surgical options which are based on the location and severity of facet joint arthritis as well as if any of the spinal discs have been affected.

Our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Spine Surgeons utilize the latest advancement in minimally invasive spinal surgery and many of our patients are even able to return home the same day.

A Facet Joint Arthritis Treatment Solution

At Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, we know that facet joint arthritis and many other spinal conditions can be limiting and may be stopping you from doing what you love. But, you don’t have to let a spinal condition control your life.

Contact any of our offices throughout Olympia to schedule an appointment with one of our Spine Specialists. The sooner you do, the sooner we can get you back to a Life in Motion!

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