All About Facet Joint Pain


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Facet joints in our body can be compared to hinges. These joints are some of the commonest cause of back and neck pain. Extreme cases may lead to disability of the patient. The facet joint pain is more related to the spinal nerves.

When the inflammation of the lumbar or the cervical facet is at its best, the symptoms may look like that of a herniated disc, a fracture, a torn muscle or a severe infection deep in the spine. These episodes of pain are frightening and debilitating. Also, at times the problems in the abdomen can feel like a lumbar facet joint problem and problems in the anterior neck may mimic cervical facet joint ache. So, sometimes it gets difficult to diagnose the real facet joint pain.

Well, there are certain symptoms that account for facet joint pains:
The acute attacks of lumbar and cervical facet joint pain are unpredictable and occur a few times in a month or an year.
* You may experience loss in spinal flexibility and a persistent tenderness in the inflamed area of the facet joint.
* Leaning backwards might be difficult in case of facet joint pain.
* The lower back facet joint ache radiates to the buttocks and the thigh muscles. However, it does not go below the knee.
* The cervical facet joint pain may reach the shoulders and the entire upper back. It does not go down to the arms or the fingers.
* The extent and the time of the painful episodes are unpredictable. It may seem like a psychosomatic problem to many. Therefore, it may be termed as 'existing in the head'.
* In case of the lower back, standing, sitting and activities like driving a car will be impossible. In extreme cases, persistent muscle spasms may tire the muscles completely.

Diagnosis
In unpredictable cases, the anterior-posterior, lateral and oblique X-ray films are examined. These are quite efficient in detecting the problem. However, a scan gives in more information on the same and a detailed examination can be made. An MRI scan is not a great option in this case but it is definitely is helpful in getting hold of other disc related issues like herniation.

The best diagnosis of the facet joint ache can be made by facet joint injection, which is also known as a facet joint block. The technique behind it is such that the suspect facet joints are injected with a small volume of X-ray contrast material, cortisone and local anesthetic. It helps confirm the problem with the facet joint if any.

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