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Understanding the problem

Nearly every flexible or movable level of the spine (with the exception of very top vertebra) is comprised of the several elements which include the Vertebral body, or building blocks of the spine, Facet joints or the small stabilizing joints located between and behind vertebrae and the Intervertebral disc, which provides a cushion between each of the vertebra and bind them together.

Facet joints are in almost constant motion with the spine and quite commonly simply wear out or become degenerated in many patients. When facet joints become worn or torn the cartilage may become thin or disappear and there may be a reaction of the bone of the joint underneath producing overgrowth of bone spurs and an enlargement of the joints. The constant bending and flexing of the vertebrae wears down the cartilage cushion on the facet joints and leads to facet disease and syndrome.

Understanding who suffers

Facet syndrome is often seen in adults over age 50, although it can also occur in younger people as a result of injury or overuse.

Potential Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of facet joint syndrome in the lower back may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the lower back
  • Pain that increases with twisting or arching the body
  • Pain that moves to the buttocks or the back of the thighs. This pain is usually a deep, dull ache.
  • Stiffness or difficulty with certain movements, such as standing up straight or getting up out of a chair

Symptoms of facet joint syndrome in the neck include:

  • Pain that may radiate locally or into the shoulders or upper back
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty rotating the head
Examinations Usually Required


  • When the almost unpredictable painful episodes recur on a monthly basis or more often, plain anterior-posterior (front-back), lateral (side view), and oblique (off angle) X-ray films should be made and examined. Usually abnormal facet changes can be seen.

CT Scan

  • However, a CT scan can obtain more information about not only the facet joints but also other structures of the spinal segment.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

  • The MRI scan is not quite as useful for diagnosing this particular spinal problem, but is extremely helpful when investigating possible disc or abdominal pain contributors.
Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS

Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how much they limit your everyday activities and your level of pain. Not all patients with pain from facet joint syndrome require surgery. For mild to moderate pain, more conservative treatment methods can include medications, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. More lasting relief of the facet joint problem can be obtained by destroying some of the tiny nerve endings serving the joints, through interventional ablation. In cases of severe and persistent problems, degeneration of the adjoining disc is nearly always present so the segment may require a bone fusion surgery to stop both the associated disc and facet joint problems or other type of surgery.

AIMIS provides various surgical options depending on an individual’s problem and include:

  • Minimally Invasive Fusion Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Facet Thermal Ablations
  • Facet Joint Denervation
  • Bone Spur Removal

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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons

AIMIS’ skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for treating facet joint syndrome. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment.

Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
  • Can I get more information before I commit to this?
  • Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
  • How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:

AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide.

AIMIS’ mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.


AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.

Further information on the problem:

The most common cause of facet syndrome is simply the natural aging process of the spine. Throughout the aging process, the joint cartilage deteriorates, leading to inflammation and stiffness in the joints. Inflammation causes the joint lining, called synovium, to reduce its ability to produce the lubricating synovial fluid, which is used to help the vertebrae glide and pivot without friction. Without the synovial fluid, the cartilage continues to wear down with constant grinding from the vertebrae and the joints continue to become inflamed.
As the facet joint swells, it risks pressing against a local nerve and causing local and shooting pain. This pain is one of the most common symptoms of facet syndrome.

Further Information on Increased Risk Groups

The most common causes of facet syndrome can be traced to degenerative changes that occur naturally within the spinal anatomy.

However, several factors can also increase potential facet joint syndrome, including:

  • Excess body weight, are known to contribute to and aggravate the condition, as well as hasten its onset. The reason is simple: Extra pounds can unduly strain the spine, which must continually work to maintain proper body mechanics, including alignment, posture and balance.
  • The natural aging process which is the most prominent. Facet syndrome, which is also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative condition that develops gradually over time due to continual wear and tear on the weight-bearing facet joints that connect the spinal vertebrae
  • certain lifestyle factors increase the risk of spinal injury, which can also lead to facet syndrome. One such factor is participation in certain sports. This might seem counterintuitive, given the fact that exercise is widely known to have many health benefits. Indeed, a sedentary lifestyle can actually prevent the muscular development necessary to support the spine and stave off injuries. Nevertheless, physically active individuals who participate in high-impact and contact sports are susceptible to back injuries, and therefore, facet syndrome.
Further examination that maybe required or requested

When painful episodes recur on a monthly basis or sporadically more often test may include:


  • Anterior-posterior (front-back), lateral (side view), and oblique (off angle) X-ray films should be made and examined. Usually the abnormal facet changes can be seen. However, a CT scan can obtain more information about not only the facet joints but also other structures of the spinal segment.

MRI scan

  • May not be quite as useful for diagnosing this particular spinal problem, but is extremely helpful when investigating possible disc or abdominal pain contributors.

Facet Joint Block test

  • Perhaps the most definitive diagnosis of facet joint pain can be made by a facet joint injection otherwise known as a facet joint block. This procedure involves injecting suspicious facet joints with a small volume of X-ray contrast material, local anaesthetic, and a cortisone combination. If relief is seen during the time of action of either acute or chronic symptoms it is diagnostic.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery

AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.

Other Services Provided by AIMIS

In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way.
From the start of your journey you’ll know the best flights to take, where you’ll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your post-surgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become “part of our family” and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.