Facet joint disorders are some of the most common of all the recurrent, disabling low back and neck problems, and can cause serious symptoms and disability for patients. However, facet joint problems rarely involve the spinal nerves.
Conditions Similar to Facet Joint Problems
Interestingly, when the acute lumbar or cervical facet joint inflammation is at its peak, the symptoms may closely imitate those of a herniated disc, a deep infection, a fracture, or a torn muscle of the spine, or in the low back, sometimes an acute intra-abdominal problem. Clearly, such episodes can be very disabling and frightening.
On the other hand, serious problems in the abdomen may mimic lumbar facet joint problems and deep anterior neck problems may imitate cervical facet disorders, so a good differential diagnosis must rule out such things. True arthritis as a source of facet degeneration and pain can also be involved and this possibility should be examined.