Facet Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from chronic pain. Of the Americans who suffer from chronic pain, 8% of them say their pain interferes with their daily life.

If you suffer from chronic pain, there’s a chance you may also be suffering from facet syndrome. What is facet syndrome? What causes it and how do you treat it?

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about facet syndrome.

What is Facet Syndrome? 

Facet syndrome is a spinal condition that causes pain in your neck or back. It’s typically caused by normal wear and tear on the spine, and symptoms usually start showing up around the age of 50.

The syndrome is named after the facet joint, which wears down after experiencing constant, repetitive movements.

What Causes Facet Syndrome?

As we age, the joints in our cartilage tend to wear down. However, certain things can cause our joints to wear down more quickly, resulting in facet syndrome. These risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Injury (especially whiplash or injury to the neck)
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive movements
  • Other conditions, such as arthritis

Degenerative changes in the thoracic, lumbar, or cervical spine can also lead to facet syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Facet Syndrome? 

Those who suffer from facet syndrome experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Localized Pain: A dull ache, typically in the lower back
  • Referred Pain: Pain that  occurs in the thighs, hips, knees, abdomen, or pelvis area, and it rarely extends below the knees
  • Stiffness: If you suffer from facet syndrome due to arthritis, you’ll likely experience stiffness
  • Radiating Pain: This is a sharp, shooting pain that radiates to other areas of the body
  • Crepitus: A grinding or grating feeling when you move your joints

You may also experience tenderness of palpitations. If a single facet joint is affected, the pain may be localized to one part of the body.

How is Facet Syndrome Diagnosed?

Doctors use a combination of medical imaging and clinical evaluation to diagnose facet syndrome. If you suspect you’re suffering from facet syndrome, set up an appointment with your doctor.

They’ll perform a physical on you as well as a visual inspection and hands-on inspection. Your doctor will check you for tender areas and muscle spasms.

They’ll also have you do a range of motion tests to check your mobility and alignment. Some doctors may also perform a neurological exam to test your muscle strength and reflexes.

How Do You Treat Facet Syndrome? 

While facet syndrome can affect your daily life, the good news is, there are a variety of treatment options available. Treatment options include:

  • Stem cell therapy
  • Medial branch blocks
  • Joint injections
  • Facet joint injections
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy
  • Prolotherapy
  • K-Laser therapy
  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy
  • Selected nerve root injections
  • Spinal decompression

You should speak to your physician about which of these treatment options is best for you.

Time to Act 

If the symptoms of facet syndrome sound familiar to you, set up an appointment with your doctor. You shouldn’t have to live with chronic pain for the rest of your life.

And, be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related news and tips.