Charlottesville Pain Management Center - Interventional Pain Specialist, Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine

Facet Degeneration

Facet joints are the small joints of the spine between the back bones (vertebrae). They are like any other joint in the body like the knee or elbow joint that enable the bending or twisting motions of the spine. The facet joints can get inflamed secondary to arthritis and cause pain and stiffness. They are almost constantly in motion and simply wear out or become degenerated, especially in older patients. Facet degeneration almost always occurs because the spinal disc become thinner, or dried out, and place greater stress on the facet joints. The increased stress causes inflammation and formation of bone spurs leading to arthritis of the facet joint. The facet joints can get inflamed secondary to injury such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. These injuries typically lead to extension of the lumbar spine which can cause inflammation and pain. Please keep in mind that a patient with both back pain and facet degeneration, the facet degeneration does not always cause the pain.