Lumbar Facet Pain
What is a lumbar facet joint?
- A joint is a location where two bones come together to meet, allowing your body to function and move normally. While joints are found throughout the body, those present in the lower spine are called lumbar facet joints. These spinal facet joints function to provide alignment and stability, while also allowing your spine to bend forward and backward. Because these joints are weight-bearing areas of the body, and are exposed to repetitive motion, they are prone to arthritic inflammation just like many of the other joints throughout the body.
What are the symptoms of lumbar facet joint inflammation?
- Localized pain
- A dull ache in the lower back
- Referred pain
- Pain in the buttocks, hips, and thighs, rarely extending below the knee
- Tenderness on palpation
- The pain in the lower back may worsen when the area above the affected joint is gently pressed
- Effect of posture and activity
- Lumbar facet pain is typically worst in the morning, after prolonged periods of inactivity (sitting in a car), after heavy exercise, and while twisting or bending the spine backward
- Stiffness in the affected joint is typically worst in the mornings or after periods of long rest, and is usually relieved by resuming physical activity
- Sensations of grinding or grating may worsen with movement due to arthritic changes in the joint
How is lumbar facet joint pain diagnosed?
- To ensure an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, it is best for patients to seek evaluation by a specialist, such as our physicians at Remedy Pain Solutions. Your encounter with the physician will likely consist of several steps which help to make the most accurate diagnosis, including:
- Patient history
- The physician reviews the medical complaints, asks about the onset of the pain, duration, other medical conditions, medications, and surgical history
- Physical examination
- Visual inspection, hands-on inspection, range of motion tests, examination of each vertebral segment, neurological examination
- Medical imaging testing
- X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, SPECT scans
- Diagnostic injections
- Typically, a numbing medication with or without steroid is injected into the suspected facet joint
How is lumbar facet joint pain treated?
- Once your physician has confirmed lumbar facet joint pain, they will develop a treatment plan that meets your needs. Our approach at Remedy Pain Solutions is to develop a conservative non-operative treatment plan, often consisting of the following treatment options:
- Physical therapy
- Oral anti-inflammatory medications
- Medial branch block injections
- Facet intra-articular injections
- Radiofrequency ablation (aka. Rhizotomy)
- If you are dealing with symptoms consistent with lumbar facet joint pain and have questions about the treatment options available to you, call us at Remedy Pain Solutions to set up an appointment with one of our pain specialists today.