Facet Arthropathy

facet joints

What is Facet arthropathy?

Facet joints are found in the posterior of the spine. Human spine has 24 vertebrae and there are two facet joints between each spinal segment of vertebrae. A facet joint has two bony surfaces having cartilage and a capsule of ligaments between them. These facet joints can also become painful and tender and become a reason of back pain. That discomfort and pain which is associated with the disintegration of facet joints is called facet arthropathy.

facet jointsPicture : Facet joints

Facet arthropathy Types

Human vertebrae have a number of facet joints and according to their position their arthopathy is divided into different types and they are;

Lumbar facet arthropathy

Low back pain that originates from the lumber facet joints is called lumber facet arthopathy.

Cervical facet arthropathy

Neck pain that is caused by cervical facet joints is very common.

See Stiff Neck Pain and Tips for Neck pain relief

Degenerative facet arthropathy

This pain may emerges into hips and legs and increases on twisting and bending resulting into the weakness of muscles. This pain is caused by the degenerative disc disease. This is due to disc aging resulting into a weekend intervertebral disc that normally acts as cushion.

Multilevel facet arthropathy

The multilevel facet arthopathy means that multiple facet joints are affected. This type of arthopathy normally emerges in later part of life when the effects of tear and wear are happening to show.

Hypertrophic facet arthropathy

This disease refers the degeneration of those facet joints that connect vertebrae with one another. This is due to the loss of cartilage with the passage of time. Hypertrophic facet arthopathy is a very common reason of neck and back pain.

Bilateral facet arthropathy

This type of arthopathy starts in the face creating discomfort within the joints and may lead to spine. The main focus of this disease is to affect the facet joints that run in our body and cause pain within different parts of body.

Thoracic facet arthopathy

Thoracic facet joints are located in the mid of vertebrae. They allow our body to bend and maintain a certain shape while twisting and support it. Mid back pain that is associated with thoracic facet joints is very rare as they are not as active as cervical or lumber facet joints. Its pain emerges along the shoulder blade and creates difficulty while sideways bending, rotation and overhead lifting.

Facet arthropathy Symptoms

There are no specific symptoms of facet arthropathy any how most of the people suffer from the complaint of back pain in their lower area and it becomes worse when they bend. That pain which is associated with arthropathy increases after sleep or rest. Lumber facet arthropathy causes back pain in lower region but it does not extend into buttock or legs.

This pain can easily be distinguished from that pain which is caused be herniated disc or sciatica because it can easily be located and does not emit into buttocks or legs.

Tips to prevent Back pain

Facet arthropathy Causes

  • The real cause of facet arthropathy is yet to be diagnosed but generally it is observed that degeneration of facet joints is the main cause of it. During this process joints lose their cartilage. This process is also known as osteoarthritis. Previous history of back injury can also be a reason of facet arthropathy.
  • Fracture or torn ligaments may also be a reason.
  • Reduction of space between two vertebrae that compels facet joint to rub against each other.

Facet arthropathy Diagnosis

There are few procedure that may help in diagnosing facet artrhopathy as neck or back pain do not conform this disease.


A bone scan test gives a vivid picture of inflamed area of spine and is used to determine the reason of back pain either because of facet arthropathy or not.

Facet arthropathy injection

Sometimes patients are injected facet arthropathy injection to diagnose the pain. If after injection their pain is relieved it testifies that they are suffering from it.


Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy in order to take vivid pictures of head. In many cases, MRI is suggested as some informations can not be seen on X-Ray, ultrasound or CT scan.


Facet arthropathy Treatment

There are certain treatments of facet arthropathy and they are;

  • Avoidance of those movements that are a cause of this pain like lifting, extension of lumber spine and twisting
  • Anti inflammatory medications
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises to strengthen and improve the endurance of mescals in lumber spine.
  • Anti inflammatory injections, though they are pain reliever but not as permanent, pain may recur after several months.
  • Sinu-vertebral nerve ablation, during this procedure a small electric probe is inserted through the skin into the area of the nerve to the facet joints and an electric current is allowed to pass through it to destroy that nerve which innervates the facet joints.

Facet arthropathy Surgery

Facet arthropathy surgery is recommended as a remedy when there is an evidence of nerve root compression from the enlargement of facet joints or nay other disorder in lumber spine. During surgery surgeon removes facet joints that are fused together.





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