The facet joints are hinge-like joints that link vertebrae together to form the spine, providing stability, support as well as mobility to the spine, allowing bending, extension, and twisting motions. These joints have cartilage tissue that acts as buffers between two bony surfaces. Injury to the facet joints causes facet joint pain, which leads to muscle weakness, tingling numbness, muscle pain, spasms, radiating pain, and joint stiffness in the neck or back, depending on the location of the injury along the spine.
The causes of facet joint pain could be osteoarthritis (inflammation or infections of the joint), shrinking or degeneration of the intervertebral discs causing additional wear and tear, excessive body weight, and increasing age. These conditions are diagnosed by physical examination of muscle strength, reflexes, and range of motion, along with X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. The treatment includes pain relief, physical therapy, and in severe cases, nerve blocks or nerve ablations.
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