Facet Joints

There are a pair of facet joints found at each vertebral level throughout the spine. These are very small joints but they are critically important in providing additional support, stability, and mobility. Since they are so small and because of regular and repetitive movement, they are prone to injury and degeneration (facet arthritis). Facet arthritis is a very common (and often ignored) cause of back and neck pain. Facet problems in the lumbar spine can cause radiating pain into the legs that may be mistaken for sciatica. Furthermore, facet problems in the neck is the leading cause of chronic headaches that are often misdiagnosed as migraines and other issues. Fortunately, there are very good treatment options to alleviate facet pain. The first step in this process is to confirm that facet problems are in fact the source of pain. This is accomplished through diagnostic injections called medial branch blocks. Once the underlying problem is diagnosed and the affected joints are identified, we can treat the facets either through steroid injections or radiofrequency ablation.