Stemcelldoc's Weblog

December 26, 2011

Low Back Pain: Think Lumbar Facet

At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic we are committed to identifying the source of a given patient’s pain.  Back pain can arise from many sources which include dysfunctional muscles, structural instability, facet joint, sacroiliac joint and  disc degeneration.  Ortho 2.0 details the importance of function and stability.

The lumbar facet joint is a small joint in the posterior portion of the spine that is composed of the superior articular process of one vertebrae and the inferior articular process of vertebrae directly below it.  Similar to the knee-joint,  the facet joint is lined with cartilage which allows for  smooth and  painless motion.  It functions to limit the movement of each spinal  motion segment.  Trauma, instability and degeneration can cause damage to the cartilage lined joint resulting in pain.  Conventional radio-graphic studies often times fail to demonstrate facet injury.  Diagnosis is made by injection of local anesthetic into the joint (intra-articular facet injections) or medial branch blocks.

AB is 36 y/o patient with 10year history of low back pain, constant in duration, progressive in nature over the last 11 months, localized in lumbar region right>left with radiations into hips.  Pain was sharp and throbbing.  Aggravating factors included prolonged walking, sitting and running.

Alleviating factors:  percoset, ice and rest.

Treatment to date included PT, chiropractic care, oral narcotics and muscles relaxants.  Patient had undergone two  lumber epidural steroid injections without significant benefit.

MRI of lumbar spine was significant for mild disc degeneration at L4/5, L5/S1 and facet degeneration at L4/5 and L5/S1.

Patient presented to Centeno-Schultz Clinic frustrated with the treatment to date and lack of  improvement.  She underwent x-ray guided injection into the lumbar facet joints which has provided her significant and sustained benefit.

Rather than relying exclusively on the MRI which demonstrated degeneration of the lumbar discs we took history and performed a thorough physical examination which was significant for lumbar facet dysfunction.

Comprehensive care is our commitment at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic.  In order to save a joint not only do you need to know how to help that joint, but you also need to know how it got that way in the first place.

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