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What to Do with an Inflamed Facet Joint

If you have an inflamed facet joint, then you know what the pain feels like. It can appear in the lower back, the middle section of the back, or even the upper back and neck where it extends into the shoulders. What matters is that the pain can be annoying, and it can be hard to find relief. Some types of back pain feel better when you’re lying down, but inflamed facet joints aren’t one of them. Thankfully, there are some solutions to this painful problem. 

What Is A Facet Joint?

Before we get into those pain relief solutions, we need to explain what the facet joint is. The facet joint is a part of each vertebra in your back. These vertebrae have a section that circles around the spinal cord, holding everything into place. There are two joints on this side of the vertebrae, and they are known as the facet joints. Like all of the other joints in your body, they are prone to osteoarthritis. When the synovial fluid in between them begins to naturally go away, the bones in these joints begin to rub together, causing pain.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Pain

Generally, the symptoms of facet joint pain are similar to those experienced in other parts of the body affected by osteoarthritis. This typically doesn’t cause any kind of excruciating pain. Rather, it’s more annoying than anything else. You might feel twinges of pain that come and go, along with things like stiffness and tenderness. Depending on which facet joints are affected, it might be difficult to bend down, pick things up, and move around normally. Although the pain can come and go, when it begins to linger and it gets in the way of your lifestyle, then it’s time to do something about it. 


Thankfully, the treatment options for facet joint pain aren’t completely invasive. Patients usually start out with physical therapy, which can help with the pain. Plus, they’ll know which exercises to do when the pain reappears. Other treatments include helping stabilize your posture. If you slouch quite a bit and consistently slump, or even have the minor signs of scoliosis, then learning how to stand, sit, and move around properly will help with the pain. Plus, things, like treating the affected area with a heating pad, taking NSAIDS, and even changing your overall daily routine to avoid aggravating your inflamed facet joints, will work as well. 

If neither of these work, then additional treatment methods will be used, including a lumbar rhizotomy, which is also known as radiofrequency ablation, can be done to soothe the nerves in that area. This procedure is minimally invasive and the results of it tend to last for up to a year.

As you can see, facet joint pain can be treated. There are many options, most of which aren’t invasive. You won’t have to worry about going through surgery for your facet joint pain unless it’s a symptom of a larger back problem. 

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