Degenerative arthritis (Osteoarthritis) can cause breakdown of cartilage between the facet joints. When the joints move, the lack of the cartilage causes pain as well as loss of motion and stiffness.
The combination of the cartilage and the fluid allows the facet joint to move with little friction. As degenerative arthritis causes the cartilage to breakdown and the joint movement is associated with more friction.
Most people who suffer from this problem typically complain that the pain is most pronounced first thing in the morning, decreases throughout the day and becomes worse again later in the day. The pain may also become worse with twisting or extension motions of the spine.
Conservative treatment is most effective for relieving the facet joint syndrome and it concentrates on maintaining motion in the spine.
Manipulative treatment - helps to relieve the pain and to increase spinal mobility;
Exercises - to strength back and abdominal muscles, and to restore spinal flexibility;
Medications – help to relieve the pain and inflammation;
Physiotherapy - helps to relive the pain syndrome;
The only effective surgical treatment option is a fusion to stop the motion at the painful joint, but this surgery is generally not recommended since multiple vertebral levels tend to be affected by osteoarthritis and multilevel fusions are generally not advisable.