Your lower back, also known as the lumbar region, supports most of the weight of your upper body. It’s also one of the most common sources of pain.
Lower back pain may develop from any number of causes, including problems related to your lumbar facet joints.
At Advanced Interventional Pain Management, with offices in Texarkana, Hot Springs, Little Rock, El Dorado, Arkadelphia, and Mena, Arkansas, our pain management specialists, Dr. Jacob Abraham and Dr. Ryan Stuckey are experts in diagnosing and treating back pain.
When it comes to helping our patients get long-term pain relief, we need to find the source of their pain. Here, we want to share what you need to know about lumbar facet joint pain, including its causes and symptoms and how we diagnose and treat the pain condition.
Maybe it’s the source of your back pain.
The facet joints
Your facet joints form the connection between the vertebral bones that make up your spine. These joints keep your spine stable and flexible and allow you to twist and turn your upper body.
Each joint is separated and cushioned by cartilage. This slippery connective tissue allows the bones to glide over each other during movement.
Nerve roots from your spinal cord pass through the joints and travel to your arms, legs, and other parts of your body.
Lumbar facet joint pain
Lumbar facet joint pain, also known as lumbar facet joint disorder, occurs when there’s damage to the joint. The damage may develop from general wear and tear, an injury, or disc degeneration. The joint damage leads to the wearing away of the cartilage, resulting in swelling and stiffness.
Many of the signs and symptoms of lumbar facet joint pain look like other back pain conditions, making it hard to get an accurate diagnosis.
Some of the symptoms you may experience include:
- Dull lower back pain
- Pain in the buttocks, hips, or thighs
- Grinding or grating sensation
- Pain and stiffness that worsens with inactivity
- Tenderness at the facet joint
Some of the pain you feel may be due to compression or pinching of the nerve root as it exits the lumbar spine. The root cause of your sciatica, for example, may be from damage to your lumbar facet joints.
Alleviating lumbar facet joint pain
When it comes to getting relief from back pain, we need to know the underlying cause of your discomfort. For many people, we may run various tests to rule out certain conditions before we start testing for lumbar facet joint pain.
Even if we suspect your pain is related to your facet joints, we may recommend anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy to alleviate your discomfort. However, to confirm a diagnosis and treat lumbar facet joint pain we typically perform two diagnostic facet joint nerve blocks with an anesthetic under x-ray guidance. Consistent pain relief with the two diagnostic blocks would confirm the diagnosis of facet joint pain.
For long-term pain relief, we may recommend a radiofrequency neurotomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure that ablates (destroys) the nerves to the facet joints.This procedure may provide pain relief for 9- 12 months. The nerves do grow back but the procedure can be repeated at that time if needed.
Low back pain doesn’t have one cause or one treatment. Don’t let your pain dictate your life. Let us help you find and eliminate the source of your pain. Call our nearest office or request an appointment online today.