What is Facet Hypertrophy?

Facet joints are bones present in the vertebrae in the spinal region. They are responsible for sharing the weight of the body bore by the spine. Facet joints are responsible for allowing us to turn, twist, bend and flex allowing us to expand our range of motions. But, owing to the wear and tear, there is every possibility that facet joints can degenerate or develop arthritis and lead to facet hypertrophy.

Facet Hypertrophy: Facet joints are bound to grow weak during the process of aging in most people.

  • In case a person suffers from facet joint arthritis, an extra bone starts to develop within the body in order to strengthen the joints.
  • Also, over time spinal discs would gradually flatten causing the vertebrae to come in contact with each other allowing the growth of a bone to avoid excess pressure on the spine.
  • The above causes are primarily responsible for the development of facet hypertrophy.
  • The extra bone starts intruding with the spinal canal leading to either excess pressure on the spinal cord or causing the vertebrae in the spine to collapse.
  • Facet hypertrophy usually occurs in the lumbar region.

Dangers of Facet Hypertrophy: The prime concern of facet hypertrophy is severe pain. But, apart from pain, there are a few other serious issues that need to be considered in people suffering from facet hypertrophy.

  • When the excess bone growth starts applying pressure on the spine, the pressure at one point can be so excess that it could even surpass the body blood pressure. When this happens the nerves in the spinal region would start to malfunction due to the lack of enough oxygen and blood.
  • Also, the severe pain would develop into posture problems in the sufferer.
  • Back pain accompanied by stiffness is also common among sufferers.

Facet hypertrophy is usually diagnosed by an MRI scan followed by a confirmation check using a local anesthetic. Treatment options such as physical therapy, exercises, spine braces, steroid and anti-inflammatory injections can help alleviate the pain. In case of a spiking pressure on the spine, a surgery would be necessary.

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