When patients suffer from back pain, many assume they have a herniated disc or a pulled muscle. But another problem called facet joint syndrome causes similar symptoms. Todd Koppel, MD, at Garden State Pain Management specializes in diagnosing the accurate cause of your pain, then providing customized interventional treatments that effectively relieve pain by targeting the source of your problem. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Clifton, New Jersey, or use the online booking feature.
Facet joint syndrome refers to pain that’s caused by injury or degenerative disease in one or more facet joints.
The facet joints connect the vertebrae of your spine together. They’re responsible for creating spinal stability and allowing varying amounts of mobility, depending on whether they’re in your neck, thoracic spine, or lower back.
Like the other joints in your body, facet joints contain cartilage that allows smooth movement between bones. The joints are also lined with synovium, which produces fluids that lubricate the joint.
Facet joints are susceptible to osteoarthritis because the daily wear-and-tear on your spine breaks down the cartilage. Less commonly, facet joints develop rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation in the synovium.
You may also develop facet joint syndrome when an injury causes inflammation in the joint or the ligaments that strengthen the joint.
The pain caused by facet joint syndrome ranges from muscle tension to severe pain. You’ll feel the pain in the area of the back where the affected joint is located. Your pain may be chronic or come in cycles with periodic flare-ups.
When nerves are pinched, you may also experience pain, tingling, or numbness along the length of the nerve. Many patients must turn their entire body to look left or right because the pain in their neck or lower back limits movement.
Because facet joint syndrome causes symptoms that resemble many other back conditions, such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and soft tissue injuries, the first step is to accurately diagnose the cause of your symptoms.
Dr. Koppel specializes in interventional medicine, which frequently uses injections to diagnose and treat spine problems. After a thorough exam, evaluating your symptoms, and possibly performing imaging studies to rule out other conditions, facet joint syndrome is precisely diagnosed with an injection of anesthesia and steroids.
After injecting the anesthesia into the suspected facet joint, you’ll monitor your pain for about a week. If the medications successfully alleviate your pain, facet joint involvement is verified and the right joint is identified. Then Dr. Koppel can administer a second injection to treat the problem.
When you have achy back pain or back pain together with radiating pain, call Garden State Pain Management or use the online book feature to schedule an appointment.