Thursday, December 15, 2011

Facet Joint Disorders and Back Pain: MN Workers’ Compensation

One common source of neck and back pain among our Minnesota workers’ compensation clients is facet joint disorders. Facet joints are small stabilizing joints located between and behind the vertebra of the spine. Facet joints prevent excessive motion, over-twisting, and slipping of the vertebrae. They slide on each other and are normally coated by a very low friction, moist cartilage. A small sack or capsule provides lubricant for the facet joint.

The facet joints are in almost constant motion with the spine, and they often become degenerated, or wear out, due to overuse. When facet joints become worn or the cartilage is torn, bone spurs can develop in adjacent areas. This can cause considerable pain with movement and is known as “facet joint disease” or “facet joint syndrome.”

Diagnosing facet joint problems can be difficult because the symptoms can be similar to other types of conditions, such as a herniated disc, a vertebral fracture, or a torn muscle. Symptoms of facet joint problems can include:
  • Acute episodes of neck or back pain a few times a month or year. 
  • Persistent point tenderness overlying the inflamed facet joints. 
  • Loss of spinal muscle flexibility, also known as guarding. 
  • More discomfort with backward leaning than forward leaning. 
  • Radiating pain down the buttock and the back of the upper leg. 
  • Locally radiating pain, or pain into the shoulders or upper back. 
Diagnosing facet joint problems often involves x-rays or a CT scan. Facet joint injections can also be used to diagnose a facet joint problem if a patient experiences pain relief following the injections.

There are a number of treatment options for facet joint disorders that can help with reducing the severity, persistence, and frequency of flare-ups. Conservative measure can include physical therapy and exercise, heat or cold therapy, avoiding static position, use of anti-inflammatory medications, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and traction. More invasive options can include facet joint injections, facet rhizotomy, or fusion surgery.

Diagnosing facet joint problems often involves eliminating other possible causes of neck or back pain. This can be a frustrating process. It can also lead to disputes in workers’ compensation cases due to the difficulty in diagnosing the condition. As a rule, the more difficulty a condition is to diagnose, the more difficulty a patient will have securing the medical care they need from their workers’ compensation insurer.

Visit for more information about facet joint problems. 

If you’ve suffering from facet joint problems, or any other back problem, due to a work injury or your work activities, we can help make sure you get the medical care you need. We can also make sure you get the Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to if you’re having difficulty doing your job because of your symptoms. For a free, no obligation consultation, contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email

1 comment:

  1. I suffered a back pain injury when I was on the job and for a while it became a chronic pain. I ended up going to an NJ facility where I got spinal cord stimulation and it worked so well to help dull the pain so that I could sleep comfortably.


Related Posts with Thumbnails