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    Old 02-07-2012, 11:32 PM   #1
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    What do you know about facet joints?

    Hello. What do you know about facet joints?

    I have just read that facet joint is the most common cause of chronic pain after a car accident and all doctors told me it is my muscles that are too tense and of course no chance it could be the bulging disks.
    It might be true because the main pain is on the left side of my neck like a pressure pain NON stop.

    I was blamed again and again that I have psychological problem if I suffer so many years after the accident and that most people are so much better and of course can sleep. I cannot even rest my neck on the pillow cause it feels like pressue and now I cannot rest the neck on the pillow at all side of the neck.
    Yesterday I could not take it anymore and took VALIUM. With valium I could rest my neck AT ALL SIDES and could sleep. OH, sleep. Somethings that was so OBVIOUS 6 years ago.
    Pain is turturing me.

    Also, I don't have pain in my shoulders, no pain in my hands, no dizziness, never had any of the above problems. It is only the neck hurting non stop. That is what occupied me 24/7. I don't think about anything else but to get rid of the neck pain.

    How come all those years no doctors told me that it might be from my facet joints? I have read 49%-54% of those who had whiplash injured their facet joints and could be the sourse of the pain. Of course it could be the disks also but again, the pain is NOT IN THE BACK of my neck, it is in the left side mostly. Back of the neck feels TIRED but not hurt. What else...I prefer not to turn my neck to both sides cause it HURTS. So I only look straight.
    Somebody told me to go to a rheumatologist cause they understand about joints? should I go? how can they help me?
    Is there a surgery to FIX facet joints? I don't have much hopes concerning neck cause I KNOW doctors do not know much about it.

    It is not that the neck is not comfortable.....IT IS A TURTURE.
    I feel sorry for anyone who suffer from neck pain. I would take knee pain in a second instead of neck pain. I know what is knee pain I had once. In fact, any type of pain. Just not NECK PAIN.

    So should I go to a rheumatologist or it's a waste of time?

    Last edited by nochange; 02-07-2012 at 11:45 PM.

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    Old 02-08-2012, 01:33 PM   #2
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    Re: What do you know about facet joints?

    I don't know much about facet joints, but I completely understand the neck pain. I have been in pain for the last 3 years, and after 3 years of conservative treatment, the pain is worse than it has ever been.

    I have had physical therapy, epidurals, facet joint injections, nerve blocks, and am now on Muscle relaxers and hydrocodone. They at least take the edge off the pain. I don't even know how I hurt my neck. They say it is just degenerative.

    Last week I saw a second neurosurgeon, and he says that I just have normal degenerative changes, and that there are issues in 3 parts of my neck that may be causing the pain in my right shoulder and arm. He doesn't want to do a 3 level surgery if just one of the levels is causing my pain, and would prefer to not do surgery at all. My MRI shows disc bulges, DDD, bone spurs, and moderate central spinal stenosis. How is this normal degenerative changes at 45 years old? Nobody else I know my age or even older is haivng all this pain, and if it is this bad now, what will it be like when I'm 65?

    So, the new surgeon has me going to PT again for a month, and then he will see me again, and if the PT didn't help last time, I don't know why it will this time. I had my first appt this morning, and I am in so much pain from it. I hope it gets better, because it is so hard to function when you can't even turn your head.

    I hope that they can get to the bottom of what is causing your pain. We all deserve to be pain free

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    Old 03-07-2012, 07:39 AM   #3
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    Re: What do you know about facet joints?

    I have facet joint problems in my lumbar spine. It was diagnosed through diagnostic injections of anesthetic only (no cortisone). I recently had RF Ablation at 3 levels bilateral and have experienced good relief with this as far as my spine itself goes. The RF Ablation burns off pain sensor nerve endings. It is not a permanent fix in most cases, but can actually result in an end to the pain even though the nerves grow back.

    My doc has me on muscle relaxers as when the nerves get going it tightens up the muscles, increasing pain. It was a pain management doc that figured this stuff out for me after over 5 years of lower back pain and no answers.

    I am still dealing with right SI joint problems. We are doing diagnostic injections starting later this month on the SI joint.

    A pain management doctor would be a good place to start for the neck pain. Some doctors just don't seem to understand that just because something doesn't show up on an MRI or x-ray doesn't mean there isn't a problem.

    Old 03-07-2012, 09:21 AM   #4
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    Re: What do you know about facet joints?

    Hi Nochange...sorry you are still in so much pain.

    If you held a vertebra in your hand, you would see the big round main area at the front of the bone and that is where the disks are...round disk, round bone. Then at the back of the bone you see the hole where the spinal cord goes down through the bones and smaller holes where the blood vessels to the brain go up to the brain. Off to the back sides you'll see 2 protrusions..those are the facet joints. They are attached to the facets above and below them and are used to stabilize twisting motions...why it hurts to turn your head.

    Even though they are part of the vertebra, they are considered their own joints and have cartilage and synovial lining of the they can get both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis(RA affects the synovial lining and OA affects the cartilage). So they can deteriorate just like any other joint and that hurts whether it's a knee a hip or a facet.

    But unlike a knee or a hip, it's harder to treat but RF Abalation is one of the newest and best ways to do it. They burn off the nerves...they can grow back and it can be repeated...but with no nerve endings in the joint, no pain. So look for a pain management place that does Rf ablation of facet joints if you want to try it.

    I've heard of experimental surgery to replace those joints but it is very experimental and new and I don't know if it's only lumbar or if cervical is done too. But I wouldn't touch anything that new.

    Facets are affected by anything that happens in the neck. The disks start to shrink and the facets no longer hit each other where they should and you get arthritis. You herniate a disk and the facets have the same problem. As we age, our neck tends to go straighter and straighter and the facets again are not hitting each other properly and you have arthritis. Anything that makes these tiny joints not come together exactly where they should, makes for a lot of arthritis pain. It's like having a knee that is ever so slightly dislocated...and it hurts.

    That ever so slight dislocation of the facets makes the muscles spasm and that hurts too but the muscles are trying to keep the facets lined up properly. So now you have 2 types of pain...spasms and arthritis. Both need to be treated.

    A fusion of the involved vertebrae should stop the pain in those facets as they no longer move but that doesn't mean the other ones aren't bad too.

    So find a pain management place and have them look at your facets and see if they can try injecting them and eventually burning off the nerves(they burn them off with low frequency radio waves so there is little pain). They are joints like any other joints except they are stuck being on the vertebrae and can't be removed...only fused.


    Old 03-07-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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    Re: What do you know about facet joints?

    I don't know if these show up well on MRI's for everyone or not but on my lumbar MRI it says moderate and progressive facet joint degeneration. My low back hurts so bad sometimes and I do get injections for them. I have been in car accidents too.

    Old 04-10-2013, 09:39 AM   #6
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    Re: What do you know about facet joints?

    I have a similar issue and my orthopedic doctor referred me to a neurosurgeon. the neurosurgeon had me get a CAT scan, because plain x-ray's and MRI's are not able to diagnose bone mass. The CAT Scan identified a Facet injury on my left side consistent with my Whiplash injury 18 months ago.

    I too have constant neck pain, and cannot find a comfortable sleep, sitting, or standing position. I only take Aleve, and it barely cuts the pain. I have not been able to work since my auto accident because I do not have the stamina I had prior to my neck injury.

    I am going to get a facet block soon, hope this alleviates my chronic neck pain for awhile!

    I know what you are going through because for the past 18 months I have seen several medical professionals trying to get to the root of my neck pain, without any relief!!!

    Finally, thanks to my ortho dr. I am getting treatment for my pain in the neck :0)

    I would get a referral from your doctor to get a CAT scan....

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