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Facet Arthropathy – Low Back Pain Series

The “Low Back Pain” series is a collection of short, high-yield articles designed to help explain the common causes of low pain from a radiology perspective.

 Diagnosis: Facet Arthropathy

Clinical Keywords: facet arthropathy, facet hypertrophy, degenerative back disease, back arthritis, spinal canal stenosis, neuroforaminal stenosis  

Clinical Problems:

  1. Source of low back pain
  2. Presence may lead to spinal canal and/or neuroforaminal stenosis leading to neurological symptoms such as weakness, numbness, or tingling


In Plain Language: The spine or backbone is made up of multiple bones stacked upon each other in a column with cushion-like intervertebral disks between them.  Each bone is a called a vertebrae which has a round front portion called a vertebral body and a back, arch-like portion called the posterior elements, which include the interlocking joints of the backbone called facet joints.  These joints can age and undergo arthritis-like changes by growing larger and forming new bone which can help stabilize the joints, however can also lead to symptoms such as pain, weakness, and numbness due to the excess bone pushing on nearby nerves. 

Facet Joint

 (Location of spinal components)   

If you have low back pain and/or facet arthropathy and would like a personalized video explanation of your MRI of the lumbar spine, please let us know. If you would like more information about related posts you can view our low back pain series or visit our Youtube Channel.

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