Facet syndrome can be a debilitating condition, causing people who have it to suffer chronic pain in their lower backs, mid-backs and necks. The pain may initially come and go, but its duration, intensity and frequency may increase over time. The facet joints may be the source of the pain in some patients. The facet joints frequently cause pain that people have in the lumbar regions. While the condition may be treated with cortisone injections and spinal fusion surgeries, regenerative medicine offers some alternatives, including stem cell therapies and platelet-rich plasma therapies. These regenerative therapies may help patients by alleviating pain and improving function.
Understanding Facet Syndrome
A facet joint lies between all of the vertebrae that make up the vertebral column. Facet joints are important because they help to provide stability and flexibility to your spine, allowing you to run, walk, bend, sit and twist. The surfaces are covered with cartilage, allowing the bones of the adjacent vertebrae to glide over each other easily. When this cartilage deteriorates, the bones can grind together, causing the symptoms.
Facet syndrome can be caused by multiple things. People who are obese or overweight are at risk of developing the condition. Athletes who play sports are also at risk, and the condition can also be the result of degenerative conditions like arthritis. The friction of the bones may cause stiffness, tenderness, swelling and pain. The surrounding muscles may also become tense and stiff as they work harder to alleviate the pain in the damaged area.
The symptoms of the condition
This condition may cause patients to suffer any of the following symptoms:
• Worsened pain experienced at night or in the morning
• Headaches that happen behind the eyes or at the base of the skull
• Abnormal spinal curvatures
• Worsened pain when the weather changes
• Pain that radiates into the shoulders or head
• The sound of grinding bones when you move
Using regenerative medicine to help
The focus of this medical branch is on facilitating your body’s ability to restore function by regenerating healthy, new tissues. There are several different types of regenerative therapies that may be helpful with treating painfully deteriorated facet joints. Stem cell therapies and PRP injections may both help.
In stem cell therapy, tissue is aspirated from the bone marrow of your hip bone, which contains undifferentiated cells called messenger stem cells. These cells are able to specialize into other cell types that form bone, cartilage or fat. After aspiration, the tissue is placed in a centrifuge, separating out the stem cells from the other material. This concentrated solution of stem cells is then injected into the damaged area.
PRP injections use your own plasma with a high concentration of platelets. This plasma is then injected around the deteriorated facet joint, helping to speed the healing process and to draw stem cells to the area.
What to expect during and after stem cell therapies
If you receive stem cell therapy, your doctor will ask you to lie on your stomach. He or she will then use a special needle to pierce into the bone marrow after first numbing the area with a local anesthetic. The centrifuging process separates out the stem cells, which are then directly injected into the area surrounding the damaged joint. The procedure is performed during an in-office visit and is relatively painless.
Most patients report functional improvements and pain reductions after receiving one treatment, but others may need two or three. The improvements will be gradual as the tissues regenerate.
What to expect before and after PRP
In platelet-rich plasma therapy, your blood will be drawn and centrifuged. The centrifuging process separates out the plasma that is rich in platelets from your red blood cells. The plasma is then injected into the area around the problematic facet joint. Most patients who opt for PRP report noticing improvements after two injections. Several PRP injections may be scheduled over a duration of multiple months.
The availability of regenerative therapies offers patients excellent alternatives to major surgeries. If you are suffering from deterioration in your facet joints, you might want to consider regenerative medicine instead of surgery.
Are you experiencing chronic back pain? Learn more about regenerative therapies by visiting our website here. Are you ready to speak with one of our friendly patient advocates? Call us today at (888) 712-0318.