Countless jobs out there cause strain to the joints by repetitive movement. The constant and repetitiveness of standing, bending, twisting, lifting, reaching and walking can actually be a serious detriment to your health. These simple and continual actions can create wear and tear on joints over time causing many to suffer from arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. Like any joint injury or disease, facet joint injuries can greatly hinder your ability to work.
You might be asking ‘what is a facet joint’? Well, your facet joints actually play a very important role in your everyday motor functions because of the big part it plays in the extension of your back.
The facet joints are not exactly like your knee or finger joints. Rather, they are the moving connectors between the bones in your spine, allowing you to twist, turn and bend. There are two facet joints at each level of the spine, allowing spinal column stability while still giving the ability for movement. The facet joints are not completely immobile and are coated by a very low friction cartridge allowing one another to slide on top of each other.
The joint cartilage can also weaken and even break down over time and has arthritic changes or osteoarthritis. This often can be referred to as facet joint syndrome or disease. This is a progressive condition continuing as the joint deteriorates causing significant pain and discomfort.
Primarily facet syndrome is caused by wear and tear and overuse, such as in repetitive work environments like carpenters repeatedly bending and lifting or assembly line workers performing tedious tasks. Other causes can include a significant motor vehicle accident, specifically in cases of whiplash where there are cervical or lumbar facet joint injuries, and a presence of other spinal conditions.
The diagnosis for facet disease is based on the patient’s symptoms and can only be confirmed by CT, X-rays, MRI scans or injections. However, physicians may not be able to diagnose and detect a facet injury immediately or even several days after an accident.
Facet joint pain can be chronic or recurring, showing up even with the slightest of a wrong movement. Temporary relief and long-term treatments is needed to prevent flare-ups and chronic pain.
Treatment for facet joint injury is usually nonsurgical including physical therapy, exercise, medication or with the work of a chiropractor. Nerve ablation and fusion surgery are also occasional treatments.
Facet disease or syndrome will affect everyone to some extent, but if it becomes symptomatic or disabling, you might want to consider if your job duties contributed to this condition. As always if you have any questions about this, call us any time for a free consultation.