Symptomatic facet joint treatment is commonplace, since most facet joint pain is not debilitating and few patients actually have to undergo surgery. Symptom-targeting care has some unique benefits compared to curative therapy, but definitely also has some serious negative connotations to consider, as well.
It is crucially important that all patients understand the concept of symptomatic care and how it differs from curative treatment. Failure to comprehend the differences is one of the major reasons for unsatisfying therapy results. We continue to receive countless letters from back and neck pain sufferers worldwide who ask questions such as: “I have been in treatment using (insert therapy here), but I still have pain. Why do I still have pain?”
Since readers continue to demonstrate a need for clarification of symptomatic care versus curative care, this distinction will be the exact focus on this discussion. Herein, we will define and explore symptomatic treatment for facet joint pain and contrast it against the most common methods of curative care.
Symptomatic Facet Joint Treatment Defined
Symptomatic treatment is also commonly known as symptom-targeting care. This form of therapy does not attempt to resolve the underlying cause of pain, which would provide a lasting cure. Instead, it merely makes life less painful by attempting to reduce the severity of symptoms. In essence, symptomatic cares address the effects of a diagnosis, rather than addressing the diagnosis itself. You might also say that it seeks to treat pain, rather than the source of pain.
Symptomatic care is always considered subpar to curative care. Doctors learn this fact in school, but seem to forget it conveniently upon entering into practice. This is because symptomatic care is far more profitable than curative care. Why not treat a customer for years with symptom-based treatment (at great profit) instead of curing them once and losing them as a customer forever? This financial motivation seems to embody the predominant treatment philosophy of modern healthcare around the globe.
Facet Joint Symptomatic Treatment Benefits
Symptomatic care for facet syndrome does demonstrate some distinct advantages compared to most forms of curative care, including all of the following attributes:
Symptomatic care is generally much more affordable in the short-term. However, in the long run, the cost of ongoing care almost always greatly surpasses curative modalities.
Symptomatic care allows patients to avoid spinal surgery. This should be an important goal for most patients, but some are actually better off undergoing a minimally invasive procedure that can cure them forever.
Symptomatic care encompasses a huge diversity of possible therapies, including traditional medical, complementary medical and alternative medical treatments. Curative care is extremely limited in the types of treatments that might actually work.
Symptomatic care for facet joint pain is actually usually sufficient for patients to maintain normal lives and function at or near full potential, unlike many other more severe forms of back and neck pain.
Symptomatic Facet Joint Treatment Downsides
Symptomatic care certainly has some serious negative factors that patients must be aware of before spending possibly years of their lives seeking a cure from therapy that has zero potential to provide it:
Symptomatic care is definitely a form of slavery, especially for patients with significant symptoms. If they stop care due to any reason, they will be in substantial pain.
Some patients can actually enjoy a complete cure for facet joint pain without surgery. Nonsurgical spinal decompression is indicated for most forms of facet joint symptoms and although expensive, is certainly far less costly than years of ongoing treatment.
Facet joint surgery can often end pain without the need for extensive postoperative rehabilitation or ongoing treatment. Better still, virtually all surgeries will be covered by major healthcare plans, while constructive forms of symptomatic care like massage, chiropractic and acupuncture might not.
As long as patients understand that symptomatic care will never cure them, there is no ethical conflict. However, our experience clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of patients who are receiving symptom-based care do expect to find relief at some point. This is a poor reflection on the moral fiber of the care providers treating them and should be rectified under threat of disciplinary action immediately by all governing healthcare practitioner bodies.