Hypertrophy Facet Joints, Facet Arthritis, Osteophytosis or Spinal Bone Spur
Facet Hypertrophy refers to degenerative and arthritic changes (osteoarthritis and osteophytosis or bone spur) impacting the facet joints. Let’s look at what a facet is before getting into the details of facet hypertrophy. A facet by definition is a structure’s surface, face or angle that is slanted. Facet joints also are known as zygapophyseal joints, or zygapophyseal joints are synovial joints. They are covered with fibrocartilage or hyaline cartilage and lined with synovial membrane. There are two facet joints in one motion segment. A motion segment is where two contiguous (adjacent or touching) spinal bones connected by facets that allow motion, mobility and weight bearing.
The human spine consists of twenty-five moveable bones known as a vertebra or spinal bones. These vertebrae stack on top of one another to create the spinal column. The spinal column gives the body provides support, allows movements and protects the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
As mentioned, the coming together of facets connects or joins vertebrae to establish spinal motion segments for mobility. The coming together of a facet from the vertebra above and connecting to the facet of the vertebra below forms the facet joint. Facet joints are smallest in the neck and most abundant in the lower back.
A properly aligned facet joint allows for effortless motion in the neck, upper back, mid back and lower back. Movement and mobility afforded to a facet joint are due to the articular cartilage and synovial membrane lining.
Daily stresses, traumatic events, prolonged sitting and poor postures can result in wear and tear of these joints and their associated structures that include the facet joint’s soft-tissues. The wearing out or degenerative changes of a facet joint is referred to as facet hypertrophy. In facet hypertrophy, the facets expand with arthritic bones or spurs to counter the wear and tear resulting from the degenerative changes.
What are the common symptoms of a facet joint hypertrophy?
Symptoms of a hypertrophied facet joint are depended on site of involvement. If the facet hypertrophy is in the neck you could feel neck stiffness, neck pain, loss, decreased in the range of motion in the neck. Similarly, if the hypertrophy is in the lower back, back pain, pain in buttocks or difficulty standing following a period of sitting could result. The vast majority of facet patients will complain of increased stiffness, discomfort or pain after sleep. To help you understand facet degeneration, facet arthritis or osteophytosis (hypertrophied facets, we have listed the most common symptoms below:
- Stiffness, discomfort or pain in the affected joint or region of the spine
- Loss of mobility or restricted motion to one or both sides
- Pain upon bending forward or extension
- Discomfort or pain with side bending or the spine to one or both sides
- Pain that worsens with a change of position
Facet hypertrophy is a condition that results after generative changes in the spinal disc. Often, a patient with facet hypertrophy also presents with a slipped disc or slip-disc. Another common condition that co-occurs with a hypertrophied facet is ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, spinal canal stenosis, cervical spondylosis, and sciatica. We highly encourage you to read about these conditions when you have finished reading this article. Hypertrophy of facets is bone spurs and arthritic formation. With bigger spurs, your risks of nerve compression increase significantly.
Symptoms of nerve compression occur in moderate or severely hypertrophied facets or spurs. A bone spur that approximates spinal nerves or the spinal cord can compress and irritate the delicate nerve fibers. Symptoms of a compressed nerve root or spinal cord resulting from a bone can include:
- Pain in arms or leg pain
- Pins and needles in the arms or the legs
- Weakness in shoulders, arms wrists
- Weakness in hips, legs, knees, and ankles
In chronically hypertrophied conditions it may even lead to paralysis of arms, or legs. In short, facet hypertrophy can become a nightmare scenario that impacts quality as well as the quantity of life.
What Causes Hypertrophy of a Facet Joint?
The spine is a critical pillar the body needs for function and mobility. Like a pillar, the spine holds the body in an upright position. The vertebral discs and the vertebral body mainly carry out the weight-bearing function of the spine. Vertebral disc or spinal discs are tough, sturdy pads made of cartilage. The vertebral body is the large bony structures that the spinal discs connect to via the vertebral endplate. You may learn more about the vertebral discs by visiting the spinal disc page.
What causes the Osteoarthritic changes or Osteophytosis in Facet Joints?
Before answering this question, it will be better to differentiate osteoarthritis from Osteophytosis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. In osteoarthritis, the protective cartilaginous covering of a joint is damaged or worn out. Osteophytosis or osteophytes are the spurs that form after the onset of osteoarthritis. However, in some cases, it can coincide. A loss in spine range of motion, stiffness, discomfort, and pain may arise when osteoarthritis and osteophytosis (bone spurs) impacts spinal joints.
How is a Hypertrophied Facet (Arthritic Facet) Diagnosed?
Diagnosing of facet hypertrophy starts with getting your medical history followed by a thorough physical assessment. Our Doctor of Chiropractic will perform a series of orthopedic and neurological tests. If the physical tests performed are indicative of facet arthritis (facet hypertrophy), diagnostic imaging will be needed. The best of diagnostic images is the MRI.
Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Physiotherapy are the BEST Treatment Options for hypertrophied Facet Joints
If you have been diagnosed with facet hypertrophy, you need our treatments. In our centers, we provide targeted integrative non-surgical treatments. Our Doctors of Chiropractic and Clinical Physiotherapist or Physical Therapists always treat our facet hypertrophy patients collaboratively. The goals of our treatment are to stabilize your condition, by fixing the root –causes. Earlier we mentioned that facet hypertrophy is always the result of degenerative changes in spinal discs and spinal joints.
Should You Opt for Spine Surgery for Hypertrophied Facet?
There are numerous methods of spine surgery for a hypertrophic facet or a hypertrophied facet. Regardless of type or level of invasiveness, they all fail in the long-term. Spine surgery for facet hypertrophy is an option best avoided. You will do better with conservative treatments. The best conservative treatment for a hypertrophic facet is NSD Therapy®, which we shall discuss later. First, let’s provide you information of surgical options that a spine surgeon may offer.
NSD Therapy® is Your Best Treatment Option for a Hypertrophic Facet (Degenerated Facet)
We mentioned earlier that NSD Therapy® was the best means of treating your facet joint and spine. NSD Therapy® or Non-surgical Decompression Therapy is the most comprehensive non-invasive treatment options for a slipped disc, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, spinal canal stenosis, bone spurs or facet hypertrophy. Chiropractic Specialty Center® is the only center enabled to offer NSD Therapy®. NSD Therapy® treatment program includes physical therapy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, nutrition supplements, exercise and much more.