What Is Hypertrophic Facet Arthropathy?

What is hypertrophic facet arthropathy?

The hypertrophic facet arthropathy is one type of facet arthropathy which is caused by body weight.

Facet arthropathy, also called facet joint osteoarthritis (FJOA), is a type of arthritis in facet joint.

The facet joints, located along the back of the spine, keep special bones (vertebrae) together and allow for a range of motion in the spine.

Facet arthropathy occurs when the facet joints degenerate or become worn down. As a result, the bones in the joints may rub together or not move as they should, which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.

And though there is no cure, treatment for pain and stiffness can significantly improve quality of life. Facet arthropathy is thought to be a common cause of back or neck pain in older adults.

It may be caused by:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Wear and tear on the facet joints

Facet arthropathy that affects the lumbar area may have several risk factors, though more research is needed to confirm them.

Possible risk factors include:

  • Age. Lumbar facet arthropathy is more common in older people.
  • Sex. Women are more likely than men to develop lumbar facet arthropathy.
  • Ethnicity. African Americans are less likely to develop lumbar facet arthropathy.
  • Body weight. The risk of lumbar facet arthropathy is approximately three times higher for people who have a BMI of 25–30, and five times higher in people with a BMI of 30–35.

A doctor can make a diagnosis of facet arthropathy using imaging tests. These tests look at the bones and joints in the spine to identify damage to the facet joints.

Treatment for facet arthropathy focusses on relieving pain and stiffness and helping a person stay as active as possible.

Treatment may include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Physical therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation. Anesthetic injections
  • Spine surgery 

Although it is not always possible to prevent facet arthropathy, there are steps a person can take to reduce their risk of developing it. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight. Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding injuries
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Quitting or not starting smoking
  • Eating a healthful diet
  • Trying supplements, such as vitamin D

Unfortunately, the facet joints cannot heal once they become damaged. This does not mean, however, that there is no chance for relief.

Working with a healthcare professional and following an individualized treatment plan can increase the chance of leading a healthier, more active life.

Please consult your physician for more information.

Keywords: hypertrophic facet arthropathy.

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