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3 Telltale Signs of Facet Joint Osteoarthritis

3 Telltale Signs of Facet Joint Osteoarthritis

Back pain is so widespread that almost 65 million Americans say they've suffered from it recently. It’s the leading cause of disability around the world. 

Causes range from strained muscles or sprained ligaments to bulging or ruptured discs. Arthritis, including facet joint osteoarthritis, can lead to discomfort and limit mobility.

 Dr. Jocelyn Idema and the team at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, with three locations in Western Pennsylvania and an expansion office in South Florida, provide state-of-the-art care for your spine and orthopedic needs, including facet joint osteoarthritis.

The spine

The spine consists of vertebrae made of bones, discs, joints, soft tissues, nerves, and the spinal cord. It plays multiple roles, including supporting the body and giving it shape, allowing us to move, and protecting the spinal cord. 

The spinal cord contains the nerves that link the brain to other parts of the body.

Facet joint osteoarthritis

Facet joints are located at each vertebral level, with one on each side of the spine. They provide the flexibility to move and stability to prevent us from moving too much.

 Cartilage covers the ends of the joints but can become worn and thin over time, resulting in friction and other issues. Facet joint osteoarthritis is progressive and can worsen without treatment. Complications include bone spurs and enlargement of the joints.

Signs of facet joint osteoarthritis

Signs that might indicate facet joint osteoarthritis include:

Lower back pain

Lower back pain is most apparent early in the morning, decreasing over the course of the day. Discomfort may return later as the day’s activities place stress on the joint.

Lack of movement

Facet joint osteoarthritis often makes movement from side to side difficult. A person with this condition may have to turn their whole body to look or bend to the left or right.

Mobility challenges

Due to stiffness and pain, facet joint osteoarthritis can affect the ability to do everyday things, like getting out of a chair, standing up straight, or walking without hunching over. If not treated, the joint can become too swollen and cause a pinched nerve.

Diagnosis and treatment

We can diagnose facet joint osteoarthritis by injecting an anesthetic and anti-inflammatory into the joint. Feeling pain relief immediately confirms the condition.

 Treatment often includes steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medication, and/or physical therapy. In severe cases, we may recommend surgery.

 If you suffer from back pain, a proper diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment and preventing complications. Call the office nearest you or request an appointment online today.

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