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What is facet joint arthrosis?

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Quick Answer

Facet joint arthrosis, also known as facet joint osteoarthritis, is an age-related degenerative condition that causes the cartilage of the facet joints between the spine's vertebrae to deteriorate, as stated by the Laser Spine Institute. This affects the smooth motion and mobility of the joints.

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The breakdown of articular cartilage that characterizes facet joint arthrosis most commonly occurs as the result of long-term spinal degeneration, but it may also be caused by previous injuries and fractures, as stated by About Health. Symptoms of facet joint arthrosis include loss of mobility, loss of flexibility and a pain resulting from the grinding of vertebrae, according to the Laser Spine Institute. The condition should not be confused with spinal rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition characterized by warm, painful inflammation of the joints. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms of facet joint arthrosis should contact a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment for the condition focuses on relieving pain, reducing inflammation and taking pressure off the facet joints, as confirmed by About Health. Treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, certain exercises and steroid injections. In rare instances, patients may require a surgical procedure, such as a facet rhizotomy or a spinal fusion, for adequate pain relief.

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