Facet pain through the cervical spine is a common condition that affects many people. The cervical spine, also known as the neck, is made up of seven vertebrae that support the head and allow for a wide range of motion. The facet joints, located in the back of the spine, are responsible for connecting these vertebrae and providing stability. When these joints become damaged or injured, they can cause pain and discomfort in the neck and surrounding areas, making you feel like a Grandma trying to look at the menu at a restaurant.
One of the main causes of facet pain is degeneration of the joints. As we age, the cartilage that cushions the joints begins to wear down, leading to inflammation and pain. Additionally, injuries or trauma to the neck can also damage the facet joints and lead to pain. Poor posture, obesity, and certain medical conditions such as osteoarthritis can also contribute to the development of facet mediated pain, as if getting older wasn’t hard enough!
Symptoms of facet pain include a dull, aching pain in the neck that may radiate to the shoulders, arms, and even the head. Some individuals may also experience stiffness and limited range of motion in the neck, making it hard to turn your head to see that cute person at the gym. In some cases, the pain may be severe enough to cause headaches and affect daily activities such as work and sleep, making you feel like a grumpy cat.
Diagnosis of facet mediated pain typically begins with a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history. Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI may also be used to assess the condition of the cervical spine and identify any damage to the facet joints. It is important to note that findings on an image don’t always correlate to the pain you may be feeling. For example, just because an x-ray shows degeneration through the cervical spine doesn’t mean that’s the root for the pain – this topic is for another blog but just wanted to throw that in so you guys aren’t scared by your imaging reports.
Treatment for facet mediated pain may include a combination of physical therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes. Physical therapy can help to strengthen the neck muscles and improve posture, while medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to provide more targeted relief.
Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and avoiding activities that put strain on the neck, can also help to reduce the symptoms of facet mediated pain.
It is important to note that neglecting facet pain can lead to further complications. The degeneration of the cervical spine can cause nerve impingements which can lead to pain, numbness and tingling in the arms or hands. In severe cases, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. Its annoying as we can’t stop the process of degeneration, although, we can slow this process down which will allow you to live pain-free for longer and do what you love more often
In conclusion, facet mediated pain through the cervical spine is a common condition that can cause significant pain and discomfort. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to managing the condition and preventing further complications. If you are experiencing neck pain or discomfort, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Written by Nick Dimakis (Chiropractor)