Arthritis/Facet Disease

Both arthritis and diseases of the facet joints can cause significant pain and impair mobility in the hips and spine. At Gulf Coast Pain Institute, our dedicated staff provides comprehensive treatment to combat pain and return you to your active lifestyle.

What is Arthritis and Facet Disease?

Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints, cartilage, bones, muscles, and connective fibers in your body. While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, the two most common that strike adults are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that mostly affects older individuals. While the exact cause of osteoarthritis is not known, it is associated with wear and tear on the joints that happen either over time or as the result of acute injury. It is most common in joints that are used often, such as those in the hands, hips, back, and legs.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It can strike at any age and can cause pain, swelling and reduced mobility in any joint in the body. While it is most commonly felt in the hands and fingers, it can also show up in the joints in the spinal column and in the hips.

Facet disease, also known as facet joint syndrome, is most commonly arthritis that affects the facet joints. Your facet joints are the joints found between each of your vertebrae. When they are eroded through arthritis, the result can be severe back and hip pain, as well as stiffness and difficulty with movement.

Arthritis and Facet Disease Symptoms

Arthritis is most often characterized by the following symptoms:

  • stiffness
  • a decreased range of motion
  • clicking or crunching noises from inside the joint
  • swelling

Those who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may also suffer these additional symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • warmth from the joints
  • skin that is tender to the touch

Some individuals who have RA may experience periodic "flare-ups" of symptoms. Others may experience some degree of arthritis symptoms on a consistent basis.

Causes of Arthritis and Facet Disease

The two types of arthritis that are most common, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis, have similar symptoms by different causes. The causes of RA are not well understood. It is more common in women than in men. People who already suffer from another autoimmune disorder are more likely to develop RA than the general population.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that develops due to wear on the joints. Over time, repetitive movements or acute injuries will lead to damage to the joint tissue. This, in turn, leads to pain and stiffness. Obesity, work that requires repetitive motions or heavy lifting, overuse of a joint, and a genetic predisposition can make it more likely that someone will develop osteoarthritis. The disease also seems to have a hereditary factor. It is also more common in women than in men.

How Arthritis and Facet Disease Are Diagnosed

To determine whether you are suffering from arthritis or facet disease, your doctor will start with a physical exam and a discussion of your medical history. Diagnostic tests that include x-rays or MRIs of the affected joints may help with a diagnosis. A blood test can identify the blood factors and antibodies that are markers for rheumatoid arthritis.

It is important to diagnose arthritis early. The sooner it is identified as the issue, the sooner treatment to prevent permanent joint damage can begin.

Treatment for Arthritis and Facet Disease

While there is no cure for arthritis or facet disease, consistent, quality treatment can help.

Over the counter or prescription pain medication can help ease the pain and swelling that are associated with arthritis and facet disease.

Physical therapy can help patients learn techniques to improve body mechanics to avoid excessive stress on affected joints.

In some cases, joint injections and medial branch blocks can help provide pain relief when more conservative measures fail.

Those who suffer from RA can get relief from medications that help suppress the body's immune response.

There is also evidence that exercise, weight management, and a diet that involve avoiding inflammatory foods and eating ones rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help curb arthritis symptoms.

Request a Consultation

Are you suffering from pain that may be related to arthritis or facet disease? Gulf Coast Pain Institute can help. Make an appointment today to learn more about your treatment options and the best way to get back to your active life.

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