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Understanding the Different Treatments for Facet Arthritis

Your spine is one of the most essential parts of your body. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to stand up or have the structure you need to perform almost any movement.

Everyone has back pain once in a while, but if you’re constantly living every day with pain and stiffness in your spine, you might have facet arthritis.

Being diagnosed with facet arthritis isn’t something anyone wants to hear. Though it isn’t curable, at The Painless Center, with locations in Tenafly and Carlstadt, New Jersey, we offer a variety of treatments, so you can live comfortably again.

The power of joints

Joints are where two bones connect. When many of us think of joints, we picture knees and elbows. But did you know your back also contains joints?

Your spine is held together by 33 vertebrae, which are divided by discs. Each vertebra has a set of two facet joints that provide structure to your spine. These joints allow you to flex and twist smoothly, and the cartilage found in each joint makes these movements possible. 

Over time the cartilage can become worn down and may not provide smooth motions as it once did. Facet arthritis describes this worn-down state of the joints and can lead to inflammation and nerve pain. 

What to look for

Many people mistake arthritis simply for the aches and pains of getting older. You might attribute your pain to a worn-out mattress or poor sleeping position. Knowing the signs and symptoms of facet arthritis can help you tell the difference.

One of the first signs of facet arthritis is persistent pain that doesn’t go away. Some other symptoms of facet arthritis include:

There are many signs and symptoms of facet arthritis. If you’re experiencing one of these symptoms or another you think is linked to it, call us or your primary care physician right away.

Treatment options

If you’re in pain, chances are you want a treatment option as soon as possible. Jason Chiu, MD can meet with you and help devise a custom treatment plan, so you can get back to living pain-free. 

Some treatment options he may suggest include:

At-home remedies

Dr. Chiu often suggests at-home treatment options as the first approach for facet arthritis. Applying a hot pad to the affected area can help ease muscles and give blood vessels the proper oxygen and blood flow needed in these tender tissues. 

Checking your posture and making sure you get the proper support your spine needs can do a lot for your condition. Correcting your posture provides a better avenue of healing for these joints and prevents future damage.

Physical therapy

Nearly every treatment plan for facet arthritis includes physical therapy. Using manual therapy, stretching, and a variety of exercises, we strengthen your lower back and the surrounding muscles to provide more stability. 

It creates a good healing environment for these delicate tissues. Long-term pain relief may be experienced when the exercises are completed properly.

Medication

You’ve probably tried some at-home pain medications to get rid of the pain. This can offer relief for some people, while others need a different option.

Dr. Chiu may prescribe a higher dosage of NSAIDs or acetaminophen. He offers something new like a muscle relaxer or antidepressant.

TENS therapy

TENS therapy uses an electrical current to trigger sensory nerve fibers. The treatment attaches electrodes to your skin and uses a TENS machine to produce endorphins, providing you with pain relief.

Injections

Using an X-ray as guidance, Dr. Chiu inserts a tiny needle into the facet joint to administer a mixture of lidocaine and cortisone. After the injection settles, you’ll be asked to perform some movements that generally produce pain. After 48 hours, you should experience some relief, which can last for up to several months.

Contact us today to start the road toward a pain-free life.

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