Do you have low back pain? There’s a good chance it’s due to Facet Syndrome. In this video, Dr. Tony DeRamus discusses symptoms and treatment for this common issue.

Video Transcript

Hi guys. Dr. Tony here. Today we’re going to talk about lower back pain, specifically facet syndrome. Facet syndrome is spelled F A C E T. It is by far the most common cause of lower back pain more than anything else. Now, the facet joint is a small joint that connects the bones together in the back of the spine. Now, even though this is a very small joint there are more pain fibers inside this area than any other area of the spine so it is very easy to irritate and compress the joint.

Now, some of the causes of facet syndrome would be one is as the spine is degenerating, basically as this cushion in between the bones is getting smaller and smaller, you begin to compress the spine. Now, exertion or overactivity can cause inflammation within the joint as well. Now, these can become very problematic for a lot of people. In fact, so problematic that some of your pain management doctors have to actually go in and burn the nerves in the joint so it just quits communicating to the brain. So now what you may be experiencing with this is typically just a localized lower back problem, localized lower back pain.

Now, the facet joint is unique because it can refer pain in a real broad distribution unlike a nerve as you feel the pain directly down your leg, but with a facet syndrome you are going to feel it mainly through the lower back, maybe down into the hips and sometimes up into the kidney area. Now, you will see a lot of people what they are experiencing when they feel like they are getting relief from that is if they stand in a line for a long time they just want to bend over and open the spine back up. Essentially what that is doing now is opening the joint and taking pressure off of that area.

Now, some of the things you can do at home with this, and probably one of the most important things when you’re going through an acute flareup, is to use ice. Now, the general rule is that you want to keep ice off of the spine twice as long as you keep it on. Basically what that means is: if you use ice for 20 minutes, keep it off for 40. If you use it for 30 minutes, keep it off for 60, and do not go over 30 minutes because the ice will have a reverse effect at that point and will probably burn you. Another thing to keep in mind is do not use heat during an acute flareup. That is an inflamed area more and although it feels really good when it is on your spine once you take it off it is going to come back with a vengeance and then of course most people say I’m going to put the heat back on again.

A few other things that we can do with this that you can do at home, mobility is key with this. So, learning how to get in some flexibility exercises, some stretching exercises will help you on more of a longterm basis to keep this from coming back. Now, keep in mind that a lot of the facet syndromes that we see are very, very chronic and don’t respond to just at-home care so that’s why we have specialized therapies here in our office that we will use to bring you back to a normal state to allow you to function better so we don’t have to get to the point where the pain management doctor has to burn the nerve off in the spine.