Q:

What is facet syndrome?

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Quick Answer

Facet syndrome occurs when inflammation in the soft tissues of the facet joints between the vertebrae cause pain, reports the Virginia Spine Institute. Generally, stiffness and soreness accompany facet joint pain, and symptoms worsen with significant periods of inactivity.

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Full Answer

Facet syndrome can result from an injury such as whiplash, poor posture and age-related degeneration, explains the VSI. The condition can affect any area of the spine, and the location of the affected area influences the symptoms the patient experiences. Facet syndrome in the cervical spine typically produces pain in the upper back, shoulders, base of the skull, neck and mid-back. It can also cause headaches and tinnitus. When the syndrome affects the thoracic spine, patients experience pain near the affected joint, due to the smaller range of motion in that specific area of the spine.

Facet syndrome affecting the lumbar spine is common because of the greater range of motion and significant forces exerted during the balancing and support of the complete weight of the upper body, notes the VSI. Patients can develop pain near the affected joint or can experience radiant pain in the hips, backs of the thighs and buttocks. Doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and massage to treat facet syndrome. In extreme cases, doctors use anti-inflammatory and steroid injections to target the affected nerve and provide symptom relief to their patients.

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