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Facet Joint Pain Questions

morgank47morgank47 Vista, CaliforniaPosts: 58
Hi everyone, I've posted here a few times before but I am coming to a conclusion about my neck. I have the following in the cervical region due to car accident whiplash on 5/31/16:
-Moderate Stenosis C5-C6
-DDD Present in Cervical Spine
-Facet Hypertrophy at the C4/C5/C6 Joints
-C6 Grade 2 Compression Deformity / Fracture

Ive done the following treatments:
-3 Month Chiropractor Care
-6 Months Physical Therapy (Also working on 4 Level Disc Protrusions in Thoracic T4-T8)
-Occipital Nerve Blocks to both sides
-MBB Injections
-CSI Injection at C5 (Provided 2 Months of 75 Percent Neck Pain Relief)

Ive also done an EMG Test that came back negative for both arms.
I have absolutely no radiating nerve pain into either arm, instead my head feels unstable and I have to constantly support it to provide minimal pain relief. I have full Range of Motion but it brings pain upon rotating my head. I notice more grinding and popping in my neck as well. When I sleep I subconsciously support my head with my hand so that it doesn't move. Due to these symptoms I feel that my issues are more with facet joint / cartilage damage over disc protrusions. My questions are, at 10 months now post accident the stiffness feels the same as it did post accident and I'm left with what course of action to take. 
Nerve Ablation around Facet Joint?
Continuous CSI Injections?
For surgery consultation purposes Im 25, Lift daily / Cardio Daily and stay active. I'm finding myself getting depressed due to the Chronic Pain I'm in daily. I avoid social situations because I can't sit in a chair very long without holding my head with my hand. I have not returned to my occupation of construction manual labor since the accident and am also contemplating switching to a new career / school. Thank you for reading.



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,238
    morgank47, there are no medical professionals on this forum site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
    I honestly think you need to be discussing these questions with your doctor.
    When is your next appointment?
    It might benefit you to use the search engine at the top right of the page. This will take you to articles and videos as well as other discussions.
    Take care and keep us posted.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • morgank47morgank47 Vista, CaliforniaPosts: 58
    I have a surgery consultation this week on Wednesday. I just have some anxiety because this problem hasn't been persistent for 10 months and I feel that a surgical approach may be my only option, at least if I don't want to change my lifestyle. I also see my pain management doctor tomorrow so I will be able to address these issues with my doctor this week.
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  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,463
    I had horrible facet joint issues in my lumbar spine...so i can tell you what my symptoms were, but your doctor will need to decide with you on a course of action. My major issue with facet joint problems was anything that included leaning backwards was excruciatingly painful, a burning hot pain.  and sneezing would literally drop me to the ground.  I never had any grinding or popping from my facets, but i did develop severe cysts (but i had a different problem-i had DDD and facet arthritis and severe degenerative scoliosis).  on turning or twisting, because my facet joints were literally disintegrating i could get "stuck"....and then would have to force myself to turn back by wrenching my torso back pulling on a door frame or something-then i would get a clunking sensation, and my surgeon told me that's because pieces were breaking off my facets and jamming in the joints. The grinding and popping that i did have in my spine was actually caused by large bone spurs that i had grown on the vertebral bodies and they would catch on each other and on the bulging discs i had...so turning was kind of like the feeling you'd get driving over washboard on a gravel road....bump bump bump and i could hear it grinding.  That's what i thought of first with your description is it sounded more like bone spurs....but i am not an expert, and that's something easily seen on an xray.  in the end, I ended up getting a bunch of laminectomies and facet joints removed, but i also needed a 10 level fusion, so my situation is totally different to yours and should not be extrapolated.....
    but my facets only gave me issues on leaning back when the facets were closing down closer together....
    I hope that your doctor can give you some help! 
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 877
    morgank47 - I understand very much what you describe.  I suffered severe whiplash and for years I was able to live with it.  I eventually developed issues down both arms/hands and even spinal cord issues.  My primary problem was a torn facet joint at right C3/C4.  My current neurosurgeon found it using a test called a bone spect scan.  I must have had ten MRIs over the years and the MRIs never found the torn facet joint.  

    Do your due diligence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit.  Advocate for yourself and you will be surprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.

  • morgank47morgank47 Vista, CaliforniaPosts: 58
    I saw the Nuerosurgeon and he believes at 10 months out and at 25 that over the course of the next few years my neck will become stronger again and the range of motion will become more and more fluid. Because there is no radiculopathy occurring and just degeneration to the facet joints / mild DDD he is not suggesting a surgery at this point. My pain management doctor is going to evaluate me for an RFA to C4-C7. He is going to do a MBB injection to isolate the source of the pain then burn those nerves. I responded well to the cervical esi corticosteroid injection I had in December. The pain dissipated for approx. 2 months then returned to about 70 percent of what it was prior. I'm hoping to get a good 6 months - 1 Year from the RFA. We agreed that the best course of action for me is to keep staying active and pushing my body everyday to regain what I was prior accident. My disability ends in 2 months of which I'll have to make a decision to either return to shoveling rock / concrete daily or decide to go to school and redefine myself. I figure if the pain dissipates in 2 months then I'll return, if it's still present I'll have to start over. It's in gods hands now, but I'll put in the work. Thank you to those who commented.
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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,238
    Morgan, thank you for posting regarding your doctor visit.
    It does sound like good news and very promising for your future. And that is all we can ask for.
    Good luck and please keep us posted on your progression.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
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