What is Cervical Facet Syndrome?
Facet joints are small joints that connect each vertebra. There are two facet joints at each vertebral column level, providing stability to the spine while allowing healthy movement. Facet joints are encased within capsules that contain liquid, protecting, and lubricating the joints. The posterior paired facet joints act with the anterior disc space to create a three-joint complex. These joints and the anterior discs allow flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral bending of the neck and back.
Due to their function, facet joints are also a common cause of spine-related pain. The pain can occur anywhere along the spine, with the lower back being the most common area. Facet joints located near the neck are susceptible to developing Cervical Facet Syndrome.
Causes & Symptoms of Cervical Facet Syndrome
Cervical facet syndrome is a painful condition that develops in the facet joints near the neck, causing aching, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. The pain can be felt at the base of the skull, neck, upper back, and shoulders. The symptoms of cervical facet syndrome may range from mild to severe. Depending on the condition’s severity, duration, and recurrence, different treatments may be recommended to help manage the pain. Headaches have also been reported as a symptom. Common causes and risk factors include:
- Aging & general wear & tear
- Poor posture & muscle weakness
- Medical history & genetics
- Injuries or trauma such as falls & whiplash
- Repeatedly lifting heavy objects
Treatment of Cervical Facet Syndrome
For milder cases, a more conservative approach may be recommended. Some treatments include rest, heat and cold application, posture correction, and physical therapy. People with cervical facet syndrome may also benefit from muscle-strengthening exercises and regular stretching sequences. Moderate and severe cases may require more advanced treatments. Specialists will perform a series of physical examinations and tests such as x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to help determine the source of pain and the sections involved. Once this information is gathered, the following treatments may be recommended:
- Over the counter & prescription anti-inflammatory drugs
- Facet joint steroid injections
- Cervical Medial Branch Radio Frequency Ablation
We specialize in Cervical Medial Branch Radio Frequency Ablation, a minimally invasive procedure performed under local anesthetic. The procedure’s objective is to locate and destroy part of the nerve carrying the pain signal to the brain. While cervical facet joints cannot, unfortunately, heal once they have been damaged, treatments are available to help you manage your pain. Our team of dedicated experts will work alongside you to determine the best option for you.