Facet Joint Syndrome: Diagnosis and Interventional Pain Solutions

in Interventional Pain Management / November 30th, 2023

Facet joint syndrome, also known as facet joint osteoarthritis, is a condition that adversely impacts the joints in the spine called facet joints. These small joints connect the spinal bones (vertebrae), allowing flexibility when bending or twisting and stabilizing the back. Inflammation of these joints can lead to painful symptoms associated with facet joint syndrome.

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome causes arthritis-like pain and inflammation, typically occurring in the cervical {neck} and lumbar {lower back} regions of the spine. With this condition, progressive deterioration involving the cartilage inside the joints becomes inflamed and breaks down, causing pain signals to be triggered in adjacent nerve endings. Symptoms of facet joint syndrome can include:

  • A dull ache to sharp stabbing pain in the lower back (typically on one side)
  • Neck pain that may radiate into the upper back and shoulders
  • Muscle spasms in the affected area
  • Lower back pain that radiates into the hips and buttocks and down the legs
  • Pain that worsens with movement (e.g., bending or twisting) and is temporarily alleviated by rest
  • Pain while walking or prolonged standing
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities (due to nerve compression)
  • Reduced flexibility and stiffness on the affected side


Due to the overlap of symptoms between facet joint syndrome and other spinal conditions, diagnosing the disorder can be challenging, particularly when based solely on its symptoms. To get a correct diagnosis from the very beginning, the interventional pain management specialists at The Spine & Sports Health Center in Hoboken, Jersey City, and Bayonne, NJ perform a thorough evaluation. Our comprehensive diagnostic approach generally includes:

  • A review of your medical history, including your most recent symptoms, and duration of pain
  • A physical examination to assess movement limitations, tender areas, and other symptoms
  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, or MRI scans to detect abnormalities of the facet joints

Using the information gathered during our diagnostic evaluation, our pain management doctors create personalized, highly targeted treatment plans to address your specific pain.

Interventional Pain Solutions for Facet Joint Syndrome

Several interventional pain management options can help alleviate pain and improve function in people with facet joint syndrome.

  • Medial Branch Blocks: Injecting anesthetic near nerves called medial branches can help alleviate pain signals from the facet joints and manage facet joint-related pain.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): A procedure that can provide long-term pain relief by damaging or blocking the nerves transmitting pain signals from the facet joints.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can offer personalized treatments based on your specific needs and recommend specific exercises and stretches to improve the strength and flexibility of the spine, help alleviate pain, and strengthen supporting muscles, reducing strain on the facet joints.
  • Chiropractic Care: A chiropractor can offer a range of benefits for people with facet joint syndrome, including pain relief, increased range of motion, improved flexibility, improved posture, and reduced inflammation.
  • Medications: Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), other pain medications, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Facet joint pain can be managed by maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, performing home exercises as prescribed by the physical therapist, and avoiding activities that worsen the pain.

Individualized Interventional Pain Solution

The choice of intervention for facet joint syndrome depends on several factors, such as the severity of your condition, the location of the affected facet joints, and your overall health. A pain management specialist can provide a diagnosis and recommend the most effective, least invasive intervention, personalized for your specific symptoms and needs. For advanced interventional pain management in Hudson County, NJ contact The Spine and Sports Health Center today to schedule your personal in-office or virtual consultation.

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