Facet Joint Syndrome and Stem Cell Therapy - Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D.

Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Facet Joint Syndrome?

Article Originally Published by: stemcellcenters.com

Back and neck pain can come about in many ways, such as overuse, injury or disease. One common cause of these aches and pains is facet joint syndrome. Facet joint syndrome occurs when the facet joints along your spine become injured, inflamed, swollen or when the cartilage around the joints begins to deteriorate. This may result in trouble bending, twisting or turning your neck or back. If you have any of these issues, it’s time to visit your doctor to see if you might have facet joint syndrome.

What is the Function of Facet Joints?

The facet joints are an integral part of the spine and even play a vital role in overall body function. There are two facet joints on the back of each spinal segment. They connect the spinal levels together and act as guides and provide limitations for spinal motion and movement. Facet joints are also the exit points for nerves to leave the spinal cord and enter the rest of the body. They provide protection for the spinal cord as well as these emerging nerves.

What Causes Facet Joint Syndrome?

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to facet joint syndrome. Age, disease, overuse or injury can all lead to back and neck pain due to the condition.

Degenerative diseases like arthritis may also play a role in facet joint syndrome. Chronic degenerative arthritis occurs when the thin layer of cartilage encasing the facet joints begins to break down and deteriorate. Without the protective cushion of the cartilage, the vertebrae is more prone to grinding against itself. This grinding is a common cause of back and neck aches.

Another common cause of facet joint syndrome is trauma or injury. Those who have been in car accidents or play sports frequently might be very familiar with such injuries. Playing high-contact sports such as football and rugby, or those who perform in dance or gymnastics are at a higher risk for facet joint syndrome. As a general rule, if you are involved with a physically demanding sport that puts a lot of tension or pressure on your back, you must be extra attentive to proper technique and body positioning or postural changes.

Back and Neck Pain due to Facet Joint Syndrome

Pain caused by facet joint syndrome is felt along the thoracic and lumbar region of the back as well as the neck. Many have experienced pain setting in gradually, whereas some have noticed it striking suddenly without sign or warning. You might be doing a simple daily activity, like bending over to tie your shoe, or reaching down into a cupboard when an acute pain hits. Typically, pain is worsened and intensified by extension or rotation of the neck of back. It may also be felt in the muscles, but it does not travel down the extremities like your legs or arms.

If these symptoms sound familiar, it is possible that you have facet joint syndrome. Your doctor will be able to give you a proper diagnosis with a physical exam and imaging studies. A diagnostic injection might also need to be implemented to confirm the condition.


Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D. is a Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Management physician at Manhattan Spine and Sports Medicine (http://www.manhattanmd.com/), a private practice based in New York City with 40 years of experience providing the finest expert medical care and services to patients around the world.

Dr. Iffie is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and, as a physiatrist, utilizes ultrasound guided injections, fluoroscopy guided injections, PRP, regenerative medicine, and more to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions affecting muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves.