I check my spelling before hitting enter. Yup, that’s what the physio was talking about: my facette joints.
Did you mean ‘facet’?
Oh, lordy, here we go again: Google second-guessing me. No, I did not mean “facet” – it was clearly pronounced “fa-cette.” I scan down the hits and find what I’m looking for.
A little smugly, perhaps – Facet, hah! — I click on my promised definition.
OK. Click again.
OK, OK. Clearly this usage is new to me and has its own slightly oddball pronunciation. Now, what about these facet/facette joints? Oh, look, here’s a site bound to be helpful in my current state: All About Back and Neck Pain.
The facet joints are the joints in your spine
that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist.
Or not, as it turns out. Let’s see what others have to say.
Patients with lumbar facet joint syndrome may experience:
- Lower back pain and stiffness
- Difficulty twisting, bending and arching
- Pain, cramping and weakness in the buttocks or thighs
- Trouble getting out of a chair
- Difficulty standing up straight
Check, check, check, check, and check. Also, unmentioned, a tendency to gasp or shriek at unpredictable intervals when changing position or holding still; when lying, sitting, standing, or walking gingerly; and when being examined by a physiotherapist or being looked at sideways by an understandably unnerved significant other.
Nonetheless, this is clearly what I have: if not the syndrome then at least the acute attack. I wonder how my treatment regimen stacks up against the great interweb.
Facet joint syndrome in any location of the spine often can be treated with conservative methods. Anti-inflammatory medication (check), physical therapy (check), periods of rest, exercise and alternating hot and cold (check) compresses are some of the more effective treatments for this condition.
Well, there you go: I’m getting conservative treatment. As I shift ever so slightly in my chair and shriek, somehow that knowledge doesn’t satisfy. I wonder if there are, you know, more aggressive options. Perhaps something more suited to the degree of, you know, pain.
More lasting relief of the facet joint problem can be obtained by destroying some of the tiny nerve endings serving the joints. This can be accomplished by a tip freezing or an electrified hot probe technique (also known as a facet rhizotomy) performed under careful X-ray control, (or for a lesser time by a carefully controlled injection of botox toxin which treats the muscle spasm).
Hmm. I admit to being made uneasy by talk of “destroying nerve endings” and words like “freezing,” “electrified,” and “hot probe” in connection with my body, although I do wonder whether I could get facial botox treatments at the same session. Are there any other options, like good old-fashioned surgery, say?
Patients who have found little to no relief
after several weeks or months
of following these and other doctor-recommended treatments
may be asked to consider surgery.
I’m sorry. What did they just say? Little to no relief after several weeks or months? Are they kidding me?
Postscript: My facet/facette joint pain has been vanquished by that conservative standby, anti-inflammatory medication.