Thoracic Facet Arthritis

Thoracic facet syndrome is a degenerative spine condition that can cause significant back pain and other symptoms if left untreated. While not as common as facet disease in the more flexible cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) segments, the joints in the thoracic spine can deteriorate as a result of regular wear and tear.

Causes

Irritation and degredation of the facet joints represent a type of osteoarthritis that usually develops gradually over time. Eventually, the articular cartilage on the facet joint wears away, leading to bone-on-bone contact and inflammation. Inflammation promotes the development of osteophytes, and arthritic pain.

Symptoms

Pain from this syndrome will present in the thoracic region by the area of involvement.  There may be pain with particular spine motions.

Treatment

Procedural treatment for facet disease can include cortisone injections into the facet joints and injections that block the medial branch nerves that relay pain information between the facet and the brain.  Regenerative injections including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are also being used experimentally to provide a healthier environment to promote healing in the cervical facet.

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