Facet Joint Arthritis and will I ever be able to Bend again??

Hi Everyone,

    To make a long story short, I'm 34 years old and I've been in pain for three years. I was told I had facet joint arthritis and also a bulging disc which created stenosis. My S1/L5 nerves became damaged and it was extremely painful for 2 years, so I just stopped bending all together. I use a grabber stick and had to limit all my movements for so long to avoid the extreme flare ups. Now the stenosis is gone, due to disc bulge healing, but the facet joint arthritis is still there and pain from the nerve damage. Now since not bending for so long, my lower back is sooooo stiff and I'm actually afraid to bend. I've been to 3 physical therapy rounds and all three times the therapist only recommended very simple exercises, none requiring bending. I wonder if the arthritis is causing the stiffness and if I will ever be able to bend again?? I can't even put my foot on my knee, even though I do this type of exercise laying down every day. Has anyone had a similar experience and were you able to eventually bend again? I'm not looking for medical advice, I'm tired of the annoying administrator messages, just hope to hear other people's experience. Thank You!



  • kellylolvekkellylolve Posts: 16
    edited 07/30/2019 - 12:39 PM

    Okay sorry for the comment about the administrator, it's just the last administrator comment I received felt judgmental and rude, but they were probably just doing their job. So according to the first MRI it showed stenosis due to facet joint arthritis and a bulging disc, I was also told there was DDD. The EMG test confirmed S1 and L5 nerve damage. After 2.5 years of pain, they finally suggested surgery. But when I got 2nd MRI it showed stenosis gone. So either the MRI was wrong or it did heal. Dr. said the arthritis is there of course, but no bulging disc. So maybe the stenosis that is caused by bulging disc can be healed? I did PT, did a full Pancha Karma Ayurveda treatment for 6 weeks, and got facet joint injections. So maybe one or a combination of these worked? I'm still in pain, but it is not sharp pain as before, now more achy and burning. I hope you can find relief for your pain also.

  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 851

    they may have been noting that your disc was bulged and pushing into the spinal cord space and thus making a kind of stenosis, so when the disc shifted or healed a bit it took the pressure off.  DDD is actually a normal aging process (or so my PT and surgeon told me) it's just some people have pain and some don't.  The facet arthritis can be so painful!  i lived with it and nerve impingements for better on 8 years....and i stopped moving too.  I have OA and RA, and for me the facet injections worked well, for a while.  but i had a lot of other issues and ended up getting 10 levels fused just over a year ago.  i had to keep moving or arthritis got worse, way worse.  and more painful.  but, if you can do things without moving the painful parts, and you have for a while, then it might be easier and less painful to keep using your tools to help.  i know for me a reacher/grabber thing was really really helpful because i just could NOT get down and back up again without crawling up a wall, or my hubby or the horse, or the fence or whatever.  facet arthrosis won't cause can't-the facets are outside and the cord where the stenosis happens is in the canal inside the they might have used a word not really meaning what it means.....i don't know, but once there's stenosis, without actually doing a laminectomy or removing the bone spurs or whatever is causing the stenosis in the first place, it usually doesn't just "go away". 

    if the injections worked (or the PT, or the other treatment-i have no experience with that Pancha treatment) thats great!  achy burning in my experience can be muscular or nerve....but the gnawing never quits and travels down your bones kind of pain is nerve pain.  Do you know if S1/L5 are impinged?  Usually with facet arthrosis there's these little things called synovial cysts that can form right in the joints that push on the nerves.  i had those bilaterally at all levels from L2 through S, and they were crushing my nerves....i would worry about the nerve damage becoming permanent if they aren't freed up.  the longer they are crushed the less likely they'll left L4-L5 nerve roots were not working before my surgery, it's been a year, and they're working, but still surgeon said 1-2 years for those to heal....synovial cysts are easy to see on a MRI...the doctors/pathologists/xray reader should have picked them up if they're there and pushing on anything. 

    in my experience with facet arthrosis-well, if i sneezed it would knock me to the floor because the facets would clamp down and pinch all the nerves with the cysts pushing on them and cut the nerves off to my legs.  so.  mine didn't get better.....and was some of the reason for my surgery.  they actually removed all my facet joints from L2 through S and put them back as the graft bone for my fusion.  my surgeon told me injections and antiinflammatories are the usual treatment for facet arthritis, but it sure didn't help me-but again, i also had scoliosis, cysts, 2 fractured vertebrae and severe spinal stenosis because of the fractures, discs and  not really the same as what is causing your pain.   can you get another opinion on both the MRIs?  any surgeon should be able to read them.....i can tell you, you want to avoid surgery as long as possible and altogether if you can.....but my experience with any arthritis is don't stop moving, because once you do, it's really really hard and painful to get that range of motion back.  it's possible, but a long patient process....(heal always helped my arthritis move better).....

    just my 2 cents....

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  • Hi WLLady and kellylolve,

    "they may have been noting that your disc was bulged and pushing into the spinal cord space and thus making a kind of stenosis, so when the disc shifted or healed a bit it took the pressure off."

    This is actually kind of interesting, as I recently asked my Doctor whether my "moderate spinal canal stenosis" ("in combination with a shallow disc bulge") was caused by the disc bulge, and I was kind of given a non-committal response of silence, followed by an unsure "yesss".

    I'm still scratching my head about that one.

    I did read the following so perhaps if stenosis is caused by a bulging disc, "spinal stenosis" can disappear (and also reappear):

    "In addition to osteoarthritis, you can also develop spinal stenosis from intervertebral disc problems. The intervertebral discs can bulge, or they can be ruptured or torn (a herniated disc). A bulging disc or fragments from a herniated disc can then protrude into the spinal canal or pinch on the nerve extending through the foramen."

    I don't think I can post the link to that article I've quoted from.  :-(


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