Page Updated on Apr 2, 2020 by Dr. Reyfman (Pain Management Specialist) of Pain Physicians NY

Facet Joint Syndrome | Back Pain Specialist Doctors BrooklynAccurate diagnosis of the Facet Joint Syndrome is extremely important as similar symptoms are caused by other back pain conditions, therefore you need to get a proper and accurate diagnosis from a pain management doctor and back pain specialist. To have a better view of facet joint surfaces we request CT scan and X-rays

Brooklyn pain management clinic is internationally recognized as one of the best back pain management specialists and doctors in Brooklyn, NYC. 

Healthy Spine is Very Flexible

Your spine is very flexible, which is why it allows you to bend, sit, twist and subsequently walk and run. This is because it is not a solid block of bones, but is instead a series of smaller bones (vertebra) called facet joints. These joints’ surfaces are lined with cartilage and lubricated with synovial fluid to allow them to slide over each other, providing motion in any direction.

That, however, is a healthy spine. With age, the lubricating cartilage wears off and sometimes even growths called bone spurs can develop, leading to friction between the facet joints. When this friction then leads to swelling, tenderness, stiffness and later on, pain with every movement, the resulting condition is referred to as facet joint syndrome or osteoarthritis.

Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome

The main cause of this medical condition is aging, which causes the cartilage to gradually wear off and lead to increased friction. However, other causes may play a part in the development of this condition such as:

Overuse: because of carrying excessive weight or as a result of sports, the facet joints may be overused and damaged well before their time. By overloading your spine, the cartilage quickly wears off and bones begin rubbing on other bones. As the individual vertebra discs rub off on one another and begin to degenerate, the joints become maligned and bone spurs begin to form. These bone spurs will eventually grow and extend into the spinal cavity, pressing into the nerve roots and eventually the spinal canal itself.

Presence of other diseases such as gout, arthritis or infection: if there had been another disease already affecting the spine, the facet joints would already be damaged and eventually break down completely.

Damage from injuries, whiplash or incorrect sleeping posture: while the facet joints may be flexible, they do have their limits. Injuries to the spine directly damage or fracture the individual vertebra, causing them to malign. Whiplash and sleeping posture, on the other hand, exert immense pressure on the joints, and when repeated may cause them to disintegrate.

Family history of the condition: studies have shown that children may inherit maligned spinal vertebra from their parents, eventually contracting the same condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis starts with a physical examination to determine the affected area, then the doctor may order X-rays of your back. In the case of any abnormalities, a CT scan will be requested to get a better look at your facet joint surfaces. These will inform the doctor about the problem areas and the extent of the damage.

Once the problem is identified, the doctor may make use of several treatment options:

Spinal Injection

This involves an injection directly onto your facet joint with a local anesthetic and cortisone which is an anti-inflammatory medication. The procedure is done with the help of a fluoroscope which uses X-rays to guide the doctor in the position of your facet joints. Once carried out, the medication may last anywhere from a few days to months.

Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Lumbar Facets

Physical Therapy

For a more conservative and unobtrusive procedure, physical therapy may be suggested to help ease the symptoms. This has been proven to work and usually reduces inflammation to the affected area, thereby improving mobility.


When all other options fail, surgical treatment is always an option. It involves the joining of the two vertebrae together with metal screws and bone graft removed from your pelvic joint.

Facet Joint Syndrome pain management doctors and specialists at Pain Physicians NY (Brooklyn & NYC) offer individualized approach, the most effective Facet Joint Syndrome treatment options utilizing the latest technologies available in the USA. The pace at which technology is growing can make last year’s methods obsolete. Our team is always at the top of their game and at the head of the pack.

We always consider non-invasive treatment options first before we turn to more invasive procedures like minimally invasive surgery.