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Facetectomy: What You Need to Know


Our spine can bend and twist because of the facet joints, which are small L-shaped joints between the vertebrae. When a joint is damaged, either from natural wear and tear or injury, it can irritate or trap a nearby nerve, causing debilitating pain. Facetectomy is a surgical procedure used to relieve pressure on the nerve by removing the tiny bony growths that are causing the pain.

In many cases, conservative treatments such as medication and physical therapy may be enough to relieve the symptoms; however, when those fail or when the symptoms interfere with your ability to function, facet joint surgery may be the best option.

If previous treatments haven’t improved your pain, Back Pain Centers of American can help you. Call us at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to find out how our minimally invasive procedures have helped more than 30,000 others find the solution to their debilitating back pain.

Man regains mobility - how a facetectomy can help

Benefits of Facetectomies

A facetectomy, which can be performed using traditional open surgery or a minimally invasive procedure, can stop your pain and help restore your spine’s range of motion so that you can return to your activities.

Our minimally invasive facetectomy procedure offers patients many benefits over traditional open spine surgery, beginning with a smaller incision. The procedure is performed through an incision measuring approximately 1 inch and without cutting through muscle. This tissue-sparing facet joint surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and offers a quick recovery.

Conditions and Symptoms Treated

Facetectomy surgery is used to treat neck or back pain caused by damage or injury to the facet joints in the spine. This can be caused by:

A facetectomy procedure can relieve symptoms such as:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Radiating pain to the shoulder, arm, and buttock
  • Decreased mobility and flexibility

Preparing for Your Facetectomy

You will be provided preparation instructions before your facetectomy. You may be asked to do the following to prepare for surgery (consult your physician):

  • Stop taking certain supplements and medications – Some supplements and medications can increase the risk of bleeding. You will be advised by your doctor as to which of these to stop taking and for how long.
  • Stop smoking – Smoking has been shown to slow recovery and contribute to back pain. For these reasons, you may be asked to stop smoking for a period of time before and after your facet joint surgery.
  • Fast for 6 to 12 hours – You will be told exactly how many hours you will need to stop eating and drinking before your surgery.
  • Arrange a ride home – Due to anesthesia medication, you will likely not be able to drive. Arrange for a transportation for your procedure.

It is important to follow the preparation instructions that you are given, as failure to do so can result in the postponement of your procedure.

What to Expect from a Facetectomy

Minimally invasive facet joint surgery is performed through a tiny incision that measures approximately 1 inch without disrupting the surrounding tissues. Fluoroscopy gives the surgeon real-time images of your spine during the procedure, enabling the accurate removal of the portion of the facet joint or bone spur that is putting pressure on the nerve. If needed, a stabilizing procedure can also be performed at the same time.

Once the damage has been repaired, the incision will be closed and you will be moved to a recovery room and monitored for a few hours before being released. Most patients can go home the same day.

Facetectomy Recovery

Recovery following minimally invasive facet joint surgery takes 4-6 weeks. Your surgeon will let you know when you can return to certain activities.

You can manage any post-surgical pain using over-the-counter pain medication. Physical therapy may also be prescribed to help you with your recovery following your facetectomy.

If you’re tired of living with debilitating back pain, the board-certified spine specialists at Back Pain Centers of America are ready to help you find the road to recovery as soon as possible.

The answer to pain is just a call away! Don’t delay.

Call us now at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”].

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