What is low back pain caused by osteoarthritis of the facet joints?
The lower back is defined as the area from the level of a trouser belt to the point at which the crease between the buttocks starts. If there is also pain outside this area, we speak of low back pain that radiates - to the leg for example. Facet joints are the joints that link the vertebrae (back bones) together. They can be affected by osteoarthritis due to degeneration (wear and tear). Degeneration means that the spinal column deteriorates through ageing.
Ageing can cause various parts of the lower backbone to change. This includes the intervertebral disc that may become narrow and bulge out, the small joints (facet joints) that develop osteoarthritis and also other structures such as muscles and ligaments which work less well as we grow older. These changes in the lower spine that come with age are known as degenerative abnormalities or wear and tear. It is important to know that degenerative abnormalities are not always accompanied by pain, but often by stiffness.
Signs and symptoms
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis of the facet joints is pain on one side of the lower back that often radiates out sideways. The pain often gets worse when sitting in the same position for a long time or when turning the lower back or bending forwards or backwards. The pain can usually be provoked by prolonged overloading such as sitting or standing for a long time, or sauntering. Walking and cycling usually cause fewer symptoms.
How is it diagnosed?
When someone complains of lower back pain, a neurological examination is always carried out to exclude a herniated disc in the lower back. In addition to neurological examination, the movement of the lower back and hip is examined to see if it is limited or painful. The back is also examined to see if any of the vertebrae hurt when they are pressed.
Do I need additional examinations?
- Diagnostic examination for other non-physical factors important for your pain, have already been done by yourself trough filling out your pain questionnaires.
- If necessary, an X-ray of the lower back will be taken to exclude other causes.
What are my treatment possibilities?
Depending on the cause of your pain, your pain specialist will decide whether or not to start physical treatment. Based on the results of the completed pain questionnaire, additional examinations can be carried out and, apart from physical treatment, other methods of treatment will be suggested.
If the results of your pain questionnaire are abnormal, your pain specialist will offer you one of the non-physical treatments listed below:
Interventional pain treatment