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Facet Joint Syndrome

Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, & Other Resources

Injury or inflammation of the cervical facet can lead to neck, shoulder and headache pain – called “cervical facet syndrome.” It is, basically, facet joint syndrome in the neck.

Cervical facet syndrome largely involves a joint in the posterior aspect of the cervical spine. It functions to provide stability and guide motion.

Cervical facet pain is common in patients who have sustained a whiplash injury, trauma to the neck or undergone cervical fusion. Physical examination is typically significant for restriction in range of motion along with pain.  Each joint has a distinct referral pattern illustrated below.

The doctors of Centeno-Schultz Clinic are experts at diagnosing and treating cervical facet dysfunction.  Injury to the joint is not commonly detected by conventional radiographic studies.  A thoough understanding of the mechanism of injury is essential.

Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome

The condition is caused by a variety of factors, ranging from blunt force to whiplash. Maintaining an abnormal posture has also been linked to the tissue’s degeneration. Posture abnormalities, such as forward head posture and slumped shoulders, can strain spinal tissues, including facet joints. Degenerative changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines are more often responsible for abnormal stress and strain. This causes higher stress on the facet joints as a result of greater loading. However, most often, deterioration is connected with the human body’s natural aging process, putting stress and strain on the facet joints.

3 Kinds of Facet Joint Syndrome

Cervical Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome, which affects the neck and shoulder joints, can produce neck and shoulder discomfort that limits your range of motion. Facet joint syndrome in the cervical spine might also cause headaches.

Thoracic Facet Joint Syndrome

Thoracic facet joint syndrome (TFJS) causes discomfort in the midback, and you may have trouble turning your entire body to look over to the right or left because of a restricted range of motion.

Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome

Lumbar facet joint syndrome is a condition that causes low back pain. You might experience discomfort in your lower back, as well as aches and pains in your buttocks and/or thighs (the pain usually does not go below the knee). Inflammation of these joints can cause stiffness and difficulty rising from a seated position. Pain while starting to move is

Common Symptoms

Arm Throbbing

In many patients, irritated neck nerves don’t present as a symptom in the neck. In fact, sometimes the only symptoms of irritated nerves in the neck occur in the arm muscles, as either tightness, throbbing, or both. While the arm throbbing might be frustrating as it’s happening, you might not think a whole lot about it, especially if it only happens on occasion. However, ignoring it is not a good idea since it is often a warning signal of a bigger problem in the neck. These body connections occur all the way back to when we were a fetus, like the neck, shoulder, and arm.

Read More About Arm Throbbing

Cervicalgia / Neck Pain

Cervicalgia is also known as neck pain, which is an all-too-common, unpleasant pain. Read here to learn the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. We will discuss other causes for cervicalgia. What symptoms are associated with cervicalgia? How is cervicalgia diagnosed? What are the treatment options for cervicalgia? Cervicalgia is a medical term used to describe neck pain. It is very common and affects approximately 2/3 of the population at some point in their life. Cervicalgia is the 4th major cause of disability. Risk factors include injury, prior history of neck and musculoskeletal pain, jobs that require a lot of desk work, low social support, job insecurity, physical weakness, and poor computer station setup.

Read More About Cervicalgia / Neck Pain

Lower Back Pain When Sitting

After a long day on your feet sitting down is supposed to be way to relaxing. Unfortunately for some sitting for any length of time can be painful. Most people experience low back pain at some point in their life. The lifetime prevalence of low back pain is 85% (1). Let’s take a deeper look at the different types of pain and causes of low back pain when sitting. Pain can present in many different ways. It can be intermitent or constant. The quality of the low back pain can also vary depending upon the actual source of injury. Common examples include: Sharp and Stabbing, Dull and Aching, Throbbing/ Pulsating, Pins and Needles, Burning, Electrical

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Neck Pain And Dizziness

Our body’s balancing system is compromised of three separate systems that work closely together to keep the body in balance: the eyes, inner ear, and upper cervical spine. The upper cervical spine contains and processes information about your position in space and communicates this information to your eyes and inner ears via nerves. There is a constant highway of electrical signals between the cervical spine, inner ear, and eyes that keep us upright, make us aware of our position and enable us to walk, move and run. This balancing system requires the inner ear, eyes and cervical spine to be operational…

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Neck Spasms

Typically they involve the entire neck but may be more intense on one side leading to an involuntary rotation of the neck.  Neck spasm and neck pain are common as 2/3rd of all people will experience it at some time.  It occurs most often during middle age with women being affected more than men. muscle tightness.  The neck muscles may feel hard or knotted to the touch.  When severe it may be difficult to bend or rotate the neck due to pain and muscle tightness.  The pain may extend down into the shoulders or up into the base of the skull with the onset of a headache.

Read More About Neck Spasms

Pain In Left Side Of Neck

Almost everyone has experienced a sore or stiff Neck at some point. The overall prevalence of Neck pain ranges from 04. to 86.8% of the general population (1). Read more to learn the signs, symptoms, causes of treatment options for pain in the left side of Neck. Neck pain can arise from a number of different conditions. Common causes of minor, intermittent Neck pain include fatigue, improper sleeping position, stress and overactivity. If neck pain persists it is a warning sign that you may have a problem that warrants investigation. Think of it as the red engine light on your car. It is warning that if left unchecked can progress to serious and expensive consequences.

Read More About Pain In Left Side Of Neck

Stiff Neck

A painful stiff neck affects one in three people every year, and is most prevalent in the 35-49-year age group. It causes significant disability for all those affected, but is more commonly seen in women. A stiff neck can be a symptom of vascular disease, inflammatory disorders, infection, and malignancy. Therefore, it needs to be evaluated properly before any treatment begins. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes a painful stiff neck, how to diagnose it, and some common treatments.

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Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Upper back pain between the shoulder blades is also known as interscapular pain. Fifteen percent of the population suffers from chronic upper back pain. Finding the source of interscapular pain can be tricky because the upper back houses many important structures like the heart, the upper lobes of the lung, the cervical spine, the scapulas, and a dozen or so of muscles and nerves.

Read More About Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades
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Treatment Options

Successful treatments include intra-articular facet injections, prolotherapy, and PRP.

Cervical Fusion

Cervical Fusion is often recommended when chronic neck pain problems worsen over time. What exactly is it? Cervical Fusion is a major surgery that involves joining one or more of the spinal bones together using screws, bolts, and plates (1). The hardware may be placed in the front (anterior) or the back( posterior) of the Cervical spine. The disc between the spinal bones is often times removed and replaced with a bone graft or a spacer. The neck of composed of 7 boney building blocks that are numbered from 1-7. The letter C is associated with the numbers to designate the Cervical Spine.

Read More About Cervical Fusion

Facet Joint Injections

A facet joint injection is a common medical procedure utilized in the diagnosis and treatment of facet joint injuries. It can be performed in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine and may involve one or more facet joints. A facet injection involves the placement of a needle under an x-ray or ultrasound directly into the targeted facet joint and the administration of medication. The injected medicine goes directly into the joint and for this reason, some may refer to a facet injection as an intra-articular facet injection. Intra-articular refers to within the joint. The procedure can be diagnostic or therapeutic.

Read More About Facet Joint Injections

L 4/5 Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion is a major surgery where one or more spinal bones (vertebrae) are fused together using screws, bolts, and or plates.  The hardware may be placed in the front (anterior) or the back (posterior) of the spine. The disc between the spinal bones is often times removed and replaced with bone or a spacer. L 4/5 refers to the level of the surgery. There are 5 spinal bones in the low back which are numbered from top to bottom L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5.  Sandwiched between each of the spinal bones is a disc.  The disc is named for the two spinal bones it is sandwiched between. 

Read More About L 4/5 Fusion Surgery

L5 S1 Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion is a major surgery where one or more spinal bones (vertebrae) are fused together using screws, bolts, and or plates. The hardware may be placed in the front (anterior) or the back (posterior) of the spine. The disc between the spinal bones is often times removed and replaced with bone or a spacer. L5 S1 Fusion refers to the level of the surgery. There are 5 spinal bones in the low back which are numbered from top to bottom L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5. Sandwiched between each of the spinal bones is a disc. The disc is named for the two spinal bones it is sandwiched between.

Read More About L5 S1 Fusion Surgery

NSAIDs

The other day I was evaluating a patient and reviewing the treatment options for their spine condition.  After discussing prior treatments, we got to the topic of medications taken for pain relief. She explained that she mainly utilized anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications and then she told me to hold much she takes and has been for many years…..she takes close to 2 grams (2000 milligrams) on a daily basis which equated to about 9-10 capsules of medication per day.  I was shocked, considering she was pre-diabetic and with high blood pressure plus the kicker of it is that her PCP (primary care physician) is ok with this…

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Perc-FSU – Trusted Alternative to Spinal Fusion

The Perc-FSU Procedure is an injection-based treatment that utilizes the patients’ own blood platelets to bring stability to the spine without the need for the rods, nuts, bolts, and hardware of fusion surgery. “Perc” stands for percutaneous, and “FSU” stands for “Functional Spinal Unit,” which means that the spine is treated as one functioning unit. Up and down the spine, the discs, facet joints, ligaments, and muscles that assist in stabilizing the spine are treated with image-guided injections of PRP and Platelet Lysate to help bring stability to the spine as a whole. It is the trusted alternative to spinal fusion.

Read More About Perc-FSU – Trusted Alternative to Spinal Fusion

PRP Injections

PRP is short for platelet-rich plasma, and it is autologous blood with concentrations of platelets above baseline values. The potential benefit of platelet-rich plasma has received considerable interest due to the appeal of a simple, safe, and minimally invasive method of applying growth factors. PRP treatments are a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the blood healing factors to help the body repair itself by means of injecting PRP into the damaged tissue. In regenerative orthopedics, it is typically used for the treatment of muscle strains, tears, ligament and tendon tears, minor arthritis, and joint instability. There have been more than 30 randomized controlled trials of PRP…

Read More About PRP Injections

Thoracic Spine Surgery

Thoracic spine surgery is a major surgery aimed at treating injuries in the thoracic spine. Because of the complex anatomy and close proximity to the heart and lungs, there are significant surgical risks and complications. Surgery on the thoracic spine can take hours and may require deflating the lung in order to gain access to the thoracic injury. Recovery can be lengthy depending upon the specific thoracic spine surgery performed. There are several different types of thoracic spine surgery.  The specific thoracic spine performed depends upon the underlying thoracic injury and a symptoms of the patient.  For example, a thoracic disc herniation…

Read More About Thoracic Spine Surgery
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Our Doctors Who Treat Facet Joints

Christopher J. Centeno, MD

Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…

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John Schultz, MD

John R. Schultz M.D. is a national expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate for orthopedic injuries. He is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and underwent fellowship training in both. Dr. Schultz has extensive experience with same day as well as culture expanded bone marrow concentrate and sees patients at the CSC Broomfield, Colorado Clinic, as well the Regenexx Clinic in Grand Cayman. Dr. Schultz emphasis is on the evaluation and treatment of thoracic and cervical disc, facet, nerve, and ligament injuries including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). Dr. Schultz trained at George Washington School of…

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John Pitts, M.D.

Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.

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Jason Markle, D.O.

Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.

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Brandon T. Money, D.O., M.S.

Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…

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Other Resources

The Spine Owner’s Manual: How to Avoid Back Pain & Life-Altering Surgery

This e-book from Dr. Chris Centeno focuses on the spine and how it functions within the human musculoskeletal system and the body as a whole. Everything in our bodies works together like a well-tuned symphony to support our well-being, and a strong spine (including all of its component parts, such as spinal nerves, ligaments, muscles, etc.) is critical to complete health.

Using the Regenexx SANS approach, The Spine Owner’s Manual provides a series of tests and clearly defined exercises that you can do on your own to measure and monitor your own spinal health. These musculoskeletal tests will allow you to monitor where your own body might be struggling to maintain proper stability, articulation, symmetry, and neuromuscular function.

  • Effective Thoracic Herniated Disc Treatment Exercises You Can Do

    A thoracic herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc in the thoracic area of the spinal region ruptures. This condition can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness in the chest, back, and potentially radiating down the arms, legs or abdomen. Effective thoracic herniated disc treatment often involves a…

  • The L5 Vertebra: Everything You Need to Know

    The spine, consisting of 33 individual bones called vertebrae, is divided into five major regions: cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), lumbar (lower back), sacral (pelvic region), and coccygeal (tailbone). These vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs, which act as cushions and allow for flexibility in movement. The lumbar spine, also known as the lower back,…

  • L5 S1 Or Lumbosacral Joint: What Is It And What Should You Be Wary Of?

    The L5 S1 joint, or the lumbosacral joint, is a critical joint. It lies between the lumbar segment of the spine and the auricular processes of the sacrum. The L5-S1 joint plays a vital role in transmitting the weight of the body via the sacrum and ilium downwards. The weight is distributed to the femur…

  • Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises

    Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a physiological breakdown of the intervertebral discs in the spine. Clinical studies have shown that disc degeneration, or the narrowing of at least one intervertebral space, is prevalent in nearly 60% of the population above 40 years of age(1). DDD can occur in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. While…

  • 9 Safe and Effective Ways to Crack Your Lower Back

    “Cracking” the back is a safe and effective way to stretch the joints of the spine. This exercise also relieves pain and discomfort in the joints. You’ve probably done it just after waking up or at the end of a long day without really thinking about it. The Benefits Of Cracking Your Lower Back There…

  • Ligaments of the Spine: Understanding Their Importance

    It started as a dull ache and now has progressed.  It feels like a knife in the back of your neck and is preventing you from daily activities.  Medications, rest and conservative treatments have failed.  Your doctor noticed on x-ray that the bones are out of alignment.  He thinks you may have suffered a ligament…

Wait! Did you get your free download of The Spine Owner's Manual?

This book is full of tests and exercises to understand what is happening to cause your orthopedic pain. 

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