Facet Pain Symptoms–What To Look For
The spine is a complex structure with many interlocking parts: bone, nerves, muscles and ligaments are all linked together to balance and stabilize the spine while protecting the nerves that help your body move and sense the world around it. This design can make finding the true cause of low back pain challenging for clinicians—pain coming from the facet joint can feel very similar to pain coming from a herniated disc, for example. Also, low back pain often comes from a combination of places, including the facet joints, intervertebral discs, and the vertebral bodies, or large bones of the spine, themselves. Even the sacroiliac joints, where the lower spine meets the pelvis, can create low back pain. While the intervertebral disc is acknowledged as the most common cause of chronic low back pain, the facet joints have been identified as the culprit in over 30% of cases.
Although it may be difficult for you to identify the exact source of your pain, your doctor can perform tests to help determine the cause of your low back problems. While not every person feels the same pain in the same way, here are a few typical facet joint pain symptoms:
- Low Back Pain: People suffering from lumbar facet joint pain will usually complain of low back pain on one or both sides of their spine. The pain is usually not right in the middle of the spine. In some cases, there may be pain that goes down one leg, but this is not as common.
- Pain increases with standing: Because standing may increase pressure, or load, on the facet joints, many people suffering from lumbar facet joint pain may find that they are unable to stand for long periods of time without pain.
- Pain increases with backward bending, twisting: The lumbar facet joints are designed to stabilize the large bones of your lower spine, known as the vertebrae, and to protect your spinal cord during movement. Some of the greatest stress is placed on these joints during backward bending (also called extension) or twisting at the waist, which can lead to increased facet pain during these movements.
- Pain decreases with forward bending: Just as backward bending increases pressure on the facet joints, forward bending decreases pressure on the joints. Many people suffering from lumbar facet joint pain will find relief by bending forward at their waist, also known as “flexion”.
While these symptoms may cause a clinician to consider the lumbar facet joints as a possible cause of low back pain, it is difficult to determine a diagnosis on symptoms alone. A clear diagnosis requires a complete medical history, physical examination and often, diagnostic facet injections to confirm the true cause of pain.
If you are experiencing any of the above facet joint pain symptoms, early diagnosis and treatment by a trained spine specialist is essential in identifying the cause pain and eliminating it, attempting the least invasive options first. In some cases, options such as injections or nerve ablations do not provide lasting relief; this is when surgery may be an option. The Glyder Facet Restoration Device was created for these patients.
CAUTION: The Glyder Facet Restoration Device is an Investigational Device. Limited by Federal (United States) law to use within a clinical study.