Facet Hypertrophy is a condition in which there is a swelling, or enlargement, of the facet joint. This swelling in the facet joint can increase to the point where nerves in the spine come under pressure causing pain and discomfort. If left untreated, facet hypertrophy can cause several other conditions including stenosis and radiculopathy.
What Causes Facet Disease Hypertrophy?
Several factors can contribute to facet joint enlargement. These factors can include any conditions which cause swelling and enlargement, including:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Facet joint osteoarthritis, which is caused by cartilage erosion
- Bone spurs, or osteophytes, which are caused by the bone on bone rubbing signaling the body to attempt to heal itself by creating bone spurs at the affected area
Symptoms of Facet Disease Hypertrophy
- Back Pain
- Pain and difficulty when arching back
- Spinal instability
- Pain and numbness which can radiate down the leg or through the buttocks
- Pain which increases with activity
The MISI Approach to Facet Hypertrophy Treatments
There are several treatments for facet hypertrophy. Your treatment options will depend on severity and location of the affected area. At the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, conservative treatments are explored first.
Non-Surgical treatment of facet hypertrophy
- Medication therapy
- Physical therapy
- Facet joint injections
Surgical treatment of facet hypertrophy
Minimally Invasive Laminectomy –After reviewing your images and exhausting all available conservative treatment methods, your doctor may decide you need a laminectomy. A minimally invasive laminectomy is a procedure in which a small incision, approximately ½ inch long, is made. Then a flexible camera is inserted, and travels around the muscles rather than through them like traditional surgery. Small instruments are then used to remove obstructing bone mass to help widen nerve passageways, relieving the pressure on the nerve which is causing the pain. This is sometimes referred to as a “decompression” surgery.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion – This procedure requires implants or bone grafting in order to stabilize and strengthen two or more areas of the vertebral spine that are affected, thus relieving nerve impingement and easing pain. The advantages of this procedure being performed minimally invasively include; smaller incisions, less scaring, no damage to the muscle, decreased chance of infection, and shorter recovery time.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.