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Facet joints are two joints found in the spinal column between each of the 24 non-fused vertebrae that form the spine. Facet joints have a disc between them and are surrounded by ligaments. The joints contain synovial fluid that provides lubrication during joint movement. Sometimes the joints can become painful from age or injury, fractures, damaged ligaments, excess pressure on the joints or a loss of lubrication which creates too much friction.
A facet fusion is a less invasive option to these facet joint-induced problems when non-surgical treatments fail to eliminate pain.
What Is a Facet Fusion?
Facet joint surgery is used when the conservative methods are not a viable solution. The vertebrae in the affected area will be fused together to stop all movement in the joints. Eliminating the movement of the facet joints eliminates the pain. In some cases, one or more facet joints may be fused to further ease painful or dysfunctional conditions.
Prior to moving on to a facet fusion, conservative treatments for pain in facet joints include pain-relieving medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, or muscle relaxants. Additional techniques may use traction, manipulation and strengthening exercises. When these options do not provide the needed relief, injected numbing medications may be utilized. Another option is nerve ablation, where an electrical current is used to destroy the faulty nerve that is sending a pain impulse.
How Does It Work?
Axial fusion is a revolutionary treatment option designed to repair worn or damaged discs in the lower back. It is typically performed on the disc that lies between the first sacral vertebra and the last lumbar vertebra.
To perform this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision next to the tailbone and creates a channel used to access the affected area between the vertebrae. He or she then removes the damaged portions of the disc and replaces them with bone graft material. The surgeon will also fuse the discs to stabilize that area of the spine.
Learn More About Facet Fusion
If you or someone you love is suffering from the symptoms caused by a worn disc in the lower back, facet fusion may be the most effective treatment. Try our free Treatment Finder tool below to begin seeking the best solution to your pain.
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There are numerous physical, cosmetic and recovery advantages provided by facet fusion surgery as compared to traditional open surgery:
When minimally invasive techniques are used, patients will experience a more rapid recovery. Once the facets are successfully fused, there will be no more motion in the area and therefore, no more pain in the joint. Fusion can provide the relief needed that allows patients to go about their daily activities, and do so without relying on heavy pain medications that can interfere with their lives.
Since the fusion is a minimally invasive procedure, it is not as likely to result in significant amounts of bleeding or other complications, such as infection.
Facet fusion surgery takes only one hour on average to perform, whereas traditional fusion surgery typically takes several hours. Facet fusion also requires only one night in the hospital, whereas traditional fusion surgery forces the patient to remain in the hospital for several days following the procedure.
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To learn more about facet fusion surgery or to discuss other spinal treatment options, schedule a free MRI evaluation with one of our experienced spine surgeons today. We will personally walk you through your next steps over the phone to get started on a treatment plan.
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A facet fusion is most often recommended for patients who have exhausted more conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy, prescription medications, nerve blocks and steroid injections. It is not usually recommended for patients with extremely severe disc degeneration that has led to the complete destruction of the disc.
This procedure is also contraindicated for patients who have undergone previous retroperitoneal surgery.
Take the Next Step Towards Eliminating Your Pain
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If you’re ready to talk with a spine specialist, call us today at (855) 586-2615.
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Effective pain relief; less scarring— a postage stamp-sized incision (less than an inch in length) is often all that it takes to eliminate your pain.
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