This condition occurs when the facet joints of the spine become stressed or damaged. These joints, when healthy, help to stabilize the spine and limit excessive motion. They are lined with cartilage which, when damaged or worn away can cause swollen or stiff joints. Eventually the vertebral bones may rub against each other. which can lead to to the formation of bone spurs along the edges of the facet joints. Symptoms may include neck, shoulder, or upper back pain if the damage affects the cervical or upper spine. Damage to the lumbar or lower back is usually felt in the lower back, buttocks, or the back of the thigh.

Treatment starts with rest, ice, heat, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Facet joint blocks may be administered to diagnose facet joint syndrome or tot treat it. If non-surgical methods fail to relieve pain, a facet rhizotomy or bone fusion may be performed.

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