Facet joints infiltration: A viable alternative treatment to physiotherapy in patients with low back pain due to facet joint arthropathy

  • AA Kawu
  • A Olawepo
  • AOO Salami
Keywords: Facet joint arthropathy, low back pain, McKenzie, methylprednisolone, oswentry disability index score


Background: There is a paucity of information on treatment options and outcome of treatment of patients that have MRI findings of FJA presenting with low back pain in the developing country. This prospective cohort study conducted mainly in the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, Abuja Nigeria is to compare the short-term clinical outcome between two groups, one having undergone facet joints infiltration (FJI) and the other physiotherapy for facet joint arthropathy (FJA).
Materials and Methods: All patients with clinical lower back pain (LBP) and MRI features of FJA were recruited into this prospective study randomly. All the FJI patients had depot methylprednisolone and the physiotherapy patients had McKenzie regimen. Outcome questionnaires comprising Oswentry disability index scores (ODI), visual analogue scores (VAS), and patient satisfaction scores (PSS) were completed at all clinic visits. Follow-up was for 6 months for both groups. The results were analyzed using SPSS 17.0.
Result: There were 10 FJI patients and 8 physiotherapy patients (1.25: 1). The outcome scores comprised the following ODI, VAS, and PSS. The FJI group had a better score compared to the physiotherapy group at short-term evaluation and this difference was statistically significant. The female patients in both groups fare better compared to the male counterparts.
Conclusions: FJI offered added benefit over physiotherapy in LBPs diagnosed with FJA. Patients with FJI have a significant reduction in pain symptom than the patients in the physiotherapy group. Though majority of the patients reported satisfactory outcome, the FJI patients group had a better outcome.

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eISSN: 1119-3077