What You Need to Know About the Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
Learn more about the symptoms of facet arthropathy and how to get the treatment you need to manage them.
Table of Contents
Facet arthropathy is characterized by degenerative changes in the spine’s facet joints. The symptoms of facet arthropathy vary depending on the severity of joint degeneration.
Common symptoms of facet arthropathy include localized pain in the affected area. This can be a sharp, stabbing, or aching pain.
Consequences of Facet Arthropathy
This condition may lead to stiffness and reduced range of motion in the spine. This makes it difficult to bend or twist.
In some cases, the degenerated facet joints may compress nearby spinal nerves. This will lead to:
- Tingling sensations
- Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
Common Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
Some common symptoms of facet arthropathy will be detailed below.
In some cases, the pain from facet arthropathy can radiate to other body areas.
For example, if the facet joints in the lower back are affected, the pain may radiate to the buttocks, hips, or thighs.
Reduced Range of Motion
Facet arthropathy can decrease the range of motion in the affected part of the spine. This makes it difficult to perform certain movements without experiencing pain or stiffness.
The facet joints can become tender to touch and sensitive. Pressing on the affected area may also cause pain or discomfort.
Stiffness and Muscle Spasms
Facet arthropathy can cause muscle stiffness and spasms in the surrounding muscles. This can further contribute to pain and limited mobility.
Numbness or Tingling
- Pins-and-needles sensation
Note About Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
Other spine-related conditions can also cause symptoms of facet arthropathy. Because of this, it’s essential to consult a professional for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
How Does Facet Arthropathy Differ from Other Spinal Disorders?
While symptoms of facet arthropathy may look like other conditions, it is unique compared to other spinal disorders.
Here are the ways in which facet arthropathy differs from other spinal disorders
How It Differs from Facet Arthropathy
- Degenerative changes
- Joint inflammation
- Potential nerve compression
This refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
How the Conditions Differ
- Bone spurs
In contrast, facet arthropathy focuses on the degeneration of the facet joints.
How the Conditions Compare
In comparison, facet arthropathy refers to degenerative changes in the facet joints.
How It Compares to Facet Arthropathy
Facet arthropathy can lead to nerve compression and cause sciatic-like symptoms. It focuses on the degenerative changes in the facet joints.
Degenerative Disc Disease
- Disc height loss
- Disc bulges
- Potential nerve compression
How it Compares to Facet Arthropathy
Facet arthropathy relates to the degeneration and inflammation of the facet joints. This can occur independently of disc degeneration.
Important Note About Spinal Disorders
It’s important to note that these conditions can coexist or contribute to each other.
A comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional is crucial. They can help determine the specific causes of symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.
How Do the Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy Vary?
The symptoms of facet arthropathy can vary. Here’s a breakdown of how the symptoms of facet arthropathy may differ based on different regions of the spine.
Cervical Spine (Neck)
- Neck pain: Pain is felt in the neck region. It may radiate to the shoulders or upper back.
- Headaches: Facet arthropathy in the cervical spine can cause headaches.
Thoracic Spine (Upper/Mid-Back)
- Mid-back pain: Pain is usually localized in the upper or mid-back region.
- Restricted mobility: The affected facet joints may restrict upper body movement.
Lumbar Spine (Lower Back)
- Lower back pain: Pain is commonly experienced in the lower back region. This can present as dull aches or stiffness.
- Buttock and hip pain: The pain may radiate to the buttocks and hips.
- Leg pain: If nerve compression occurs due to facet arthropathy, it can lead to radiating leg pain.
- Muscle weakness or numbness: Nerve compression can cause numbness in the legs or feet.
Important Note About Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy in Different Spinal Areas
These symptoms may not always be exclusive to the specific region. Facet arthropathy in the lumbar spine can cause pain that radiates to the hips or thighs.
Additionally, symptoms can vary from person to person. Not everyone may experience the same symptoms.
Non-Specific Symptoms Indicative of Facet Arthropathy
Symptoms of facet arthropathy manifest as localized pain in the affected spinal area. But, some non-specific symptoms may be present alongside facet arthropathy.
These symptoms are not exclusive to facet arthropathy.
Facet arthropathy can lead to muscle stiffness in the surrounding area. This can occur as the body tries to protect the affected facet joints. This stiffness can contribute to limited mobility and discomfort.
In response to the degenerative changes, the surrounding muscles may experience spasms. These spasms can cause extra pain and discomfort.
Pain with Prolonged Sitting or Standing
Facet arthropathy pain can be aggravated by prolonged periods of sitting or standing. These actions put pressure on the affected joints.
Changing positions or movements may provide temporary relief.
Pain During Certain Movements
- Bending backward
- Arching the spine
Those with facet arthropathy may experience stiffness and pain after prolonged rest periods.
This can improve with movement and activity throughout the day.
Fatigue and Loss of Appetite
Fatigue and loss of appetite aren’t specific symptoms of facet arthropathy. These symptoms are more associated with other health conditions or underlying systemic issues.
These non-specific symptoms can also be present in other spinal conditions. A proper medical evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
How Quickly Do Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy Develop?
The development of symptoms of facet arthropathy can vary from person to person. It generally occurs over time as the facet joints undergo degenerative changes.
Onset and Progression of Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
- The extent of joint degeneration
- Lifestyle factors
- Any underlying conditions
Important Note About Facet Arthropathy
Facet arthropathy is a chronic condition. Symptoms worsen as the degeneration progresses, but the rate of progression is variable.
Patients may experience slow and gradual deterioration. In comparison, others may experience more rapid changes in their symptoms.
If you suspect you may have facet arthropathy, consult with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment options.
What is the Correlation Between Symptom Onset and Disease Severity of Facet Arthropathy?
There can be a correlation between symptom onset and the severity of facet arthropathy. But, it is not always a direct relationship.
What is the Severity of the Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy?
- Joint inflammation
- Cartilage deterioration
- Bone spur formation
- Potential nerve compression
Degenerative Changes Without Symptoms
Others may have degenerative changes in their facet joints without experiencing apparent symptoms. This can occur when the degeneration progresses slowly. In such cases, symptoms may only become evident as the condition worsens.
Factors that Influence Symptom Onset and Severity
Various factors can influence the correlation between symptom onset and disease severity. The presence and severity of symptoms do not always align with the imaging findings.
It’s essential to consider the diagnosis when evaluating the severity of facet arthropathy.
A healthcare professional can review imaging results to assess your symptoms. This is to understand the correlation between your symptoms and the severity of your facet arthropathy.
What are the Potential Complications of Facet Arthropathy?
If left untreated, facet arthropathy can lead to various complications. Below are some of the potential complications of untreated facet arthropathy.
Facet arthropathy leads to chronic pain. The pain can become more persistent, severe, and debilitating if left untreated. This can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.
Limited Mobility and Flexibility
The degenerative changes in the facet joints can lead to restricted movement. If untreated, this can result in further loss of mobility. This will make it difficult to perform daily activities and affect overall function.
Nerve Compression and Radiculopathy
- Radiating pain
- Muscle weakness
As facet arthropathy progresses, it can contribute to spinal instability. This can occur if there is significant joint degeneration and ligament laxity.
Spinal instability can lead to abnormal spinal movements and increased pain. There is also an increased risk of other spinal conditions, such as spondylolisthesis.
Reduced Quality of Life
Chronic pain and limited mobility can impact a person’s quality of life. Symptoms of facet arthropathy can affect daily functioning.
Importance of Seeking Medical Care
- Prevent the progression of symptoms
- Manage pain
- Address potential complications
How Can Patients Manage Complications of Facet Arthropathy?
Patients can manage the complications of facet arthropathy in various ways. This includes treatment to reduce pain, improve mobility, and address associated complications.
Here are some common management strategies.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and inflammation associated with facet arthropathy.5
Stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants can manage severe pain or muscle spasms.
- Improve flexibility
- Strengthen the muscles supporting the spine
- Enhance posture
Pain Management Techniques
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Therapeutic massage
In some cases, corticosteroid injections are administered into the facet joints. This will help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
These injections are performed under guidance to ensure accurate needle placement.
Patients are advised to use supportive devices like braces or orthotics. They can stabilize and reduce pain during certain activities or movements.
Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can help manage facet arthropathy. Maintaining healthy habits can reduce stress on the facet joints.
In cases where conservative treatments are ineffective surgical options are considered. Surgical procedures can address the underlying pathology and provide long-term relief.
Importance of Working with Healthcare Professionals
Patients need to work with healthcare professionals or physical therapists. This will help them develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their conditions.
Regular follow-up appointments with the healthcare team can help them track progress. They can also adjust treatments if necessary and address emerging complications.
Alternative Therapies for Treating Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
Individuals with facet arthropathy often seek alternative therapies. These therapies can complement conventional treatments and reduce symptoms.
Some alternative therapies have shown promise in managing symptoms of facet arthropathy.
Important Note About Alternative Therapies
It’s important to note that these therapies may not be suitable for everyone. It’s advisable to consult with a professional before incorporating them into your treatment.
Here are some alternative therapies considered for managing symptoms of facet arthropathy.
- Relax muscles
- Improve blood circulation
- Reduce muscle tension
Chiropractic care focuses on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders, including spinal conditions. Chiropractors use manual manipulation techniques to address joint restrictions or misalignments.6
For facet arthropathy, chiropractic adjustments may aim to improve joint mobility. It can also reduce pain and enhance spinal function.
While patients reported relief from chiropractic care, the study for its effectiveness is limited. The practice is also controversial in some medical circles.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow.7
Some individuals find that acupuncture helps ease pain and promotes balance and well-being. But, the evidence supporting its effectiveness, specifically for facet arthropathy, is limited.
Herbal Remedies and Supplements
Certain herbal remedies, such as turmeric and ginger, are believed to be anti-inflammatory. While scientific evidence is limited, some patients find relief from these natural remedies.
It’s essential to consult with a professional before starting any herbal remedies. This is because they may interact with medications or have potential side effects.
Techniques such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation can reduce stress. They manage symptoms of facet arthropathy symptoms by enhancing physical and mental health.
Heat or Cold Therapy
Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat therapy can help improve blood flow, while cold therapy can reduce swelling.
Using heat or cold therapy and following appropriate guidelines is important.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
TENS involves using a small device that delivers electrical impulses to the affected area. This can help reduce pain by interfering with pain signals. TENS is generally considered safe and may relieve facet arthropathy pain.
Each Person’s Experience Varies
Remember that patients’ experiences with alternative therapies can vary. What works for one person may not work for another.
Discussing these alternative therapies with a healthcare professional is essential. They can ensure safe integration into your treatment plan and track your progress.
Treatment for Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy at J. Flowers Health Institute
Chronic pain management requires a personalized approach. Professionals can develop a treatment plan based on the characteristics of your pain.
Poorly managed chronic pain can lead to various complications. It may cause:
- Muscle weakness
- Limited mobility
- Reduced physical fitness
Importance of Getting Quality Care
Seeking help for chronic pain can lead to effective pain management strategies. This includes treatment that:
- Reduces symptoms
- Improves mobility
- Enhances well-being
J. Flowers Health Institute can help you manage your symptoms of facet arthropathy.
What We Do
At J. Flowers Health Institute, we understand the importance of a person’s physical health.
Because of this, we specialize in pain management and provide emotional support throughout your journey. We help you develop coping strategies and address any psychological aspects of pain.
Our knowledgeable and kind J. Flowers Health Institute team also connects you with additional resources or support networks.
Contact J. Flowers Health Institute Today
Chronic pain should not be ignored or accepted as a normal part of life. By seeking help, you take the first step toward understanding and managing your pain. You can also improve your quality of life and find relief from chronic pain.
Reach out to J. Flowers Health Institute today for more information about our treatment options.