Facet syndrome diagnosis
If you are experiencing any facet syndrome symptoms, you should see a doctor specializing in spinal disorders, such as a physiatrist, an orthopedic surgeon, or a specialist in pain management.
During the appointment, your doctor may perform physical and neurological exams and look through your medical history. The physical exam involves some movement as twisting, bending, or walking. These movements may generate pain. The neurological assessment includes the examination of your reflexes and other responses.
In addition to the physical and neurological examination, your doctor may also order a diagnostic block or injection in order to confirm facet joint syndrome. There are several options for diagnostic injections, including intraarticular injection of local anesthetic and image-guided medial branch blocks.
The mode of action of diagnostic injections is sending a local anesthetic or/and anti-inflammatory drug to the suspected site of joint pain.
Pain relief and mobility recovery immediately or shortly following injection are signs that your doctor has identified the source of your pain and can develop a proper treatment plan to cure it.
Treatment of facet syndrome
The treatment for facet syndrome is usually non-surgical with mild pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Rest and ice or heat may also be helpful, as well as physical therapy. In some cases, a procedure called a facet joint block which is used to diagnose facet syndrome can also be used as a treatment for the condition. However, if conservative treatments are not effective in relieving the pain of facet syndrome, sometimes surgery is recommended.
Minimally invasive non-surgical therapies for facet syndrome treatment
- Medial branch blocks affect the medial branch nerves that emerge from the facet joints and pass the pain impulses to the brain.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA). By heating the nerves with radiofrequency waves, RFA blocks pain impulses. Fortunately, RFA may provide long-lasting pain relief for up to a year. Also, if your response to intraarticular steroid injections was good with pain relief, you’ll have a satisfactory response to RFA.
- Intraarticular steroid injections. Such injections contain steroids that ease the pain sensations associated with the joint’s inflammation together with pain-relieving anesthetics.