The majority of people with facet joint syndrome achieve symptom relief with medication, activity modification, and physical therapy. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor may prescribe prescription pain or muscle relaxant medication.
You may be referred to physical therapy to learn correct postures to use while standing, walking, and performing activities. You may learn new ways of performing activities, such as lifting, to reduce the amount of stress on your back. Exercises can help increase strength and flexibility.
Medication and physical therapy may not successfully relieve symptoms for some people with facet joint syndrome. After a facet block has confirmed that the facet joint is the source of pain, a radiofrequency neurotomy (radiofrequency rhizotomy) can be used to provide longer lasting pain management. A radiofrequency neurotomy uses heat to create a lesion in the nerve which impairs its ability to send pain signals. Because the nerve is “turned off,” pain is not felt..
It usually takes three to four weeks for the treated nerves to completely die. During this period, your neck or back may feel weak. You may experience pain until the nerves are dead..
Radiofrequency neurotomy for facet joint syndrome typically provides symptom relief for about a year. Physical therapy can help you regain strength and flexibility so that you can resume your favorite activities. If you experience pain again, the treatment may be repeated.