Facet joints are sections of the spine where the vertebrae
connect to one another. The facet joints enable a specific
variety of movements for each vertebral level while providing
strength, flexibility and integrity to the spine. Pain in
the facet joints gives rise to a condition known as Facet
Joint Syndrome. This syndrome is sometimes also known as Facet
Joint Disease, or simply Facet Syndrome.
What Causes Facet Joint Degeneration?
1.) Osteoarthritis –
is the main culprit in Facet Joint Syndrome. While the natural
ageing process normally brings about conditions like osteoarthritis
and facet joint degeneration, only a small slice of the population
is liable to experience pain symptoms from these ailments.
The source of the pain usually stems from bone spurs that
develop around the facet joints that can constrict a nerve
or two, causing sciatica.
2.) Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) – can also result
in Facet Joint Syndrome. While not usually painful, the normal
wearing away of the spinal discs causes the vertebral bones
to rub against one another, bone against bone.
3.) Excessive Use of the Spine
– athletes like gymnasts and acrobats are more prone
to an early onset of Facet Joint Syndrome because the rigors
of their sport cause exceptional deterioration in their vertebral
Some Symptoms of Facet Joint
It will be difficult to pinpoint
Face Joint Syndrome based on the symptoms of the disease,
as many of them are remarkably similar to back pain. Joint
pain may also be caused by other underlying factors, like
osteoarthritis, in which case Facet Syndrome becomes merely
a symptom and not the ailment itself. Some of the symptoms
of Facet Joint Disease include:
1.) Severe spinal pain, particularly
when engaged in movement.
2.) Stiffness and limited motion ability in the area of the
3.) Pain becomes worse upon bending backwards or straightening
4.) When the lumbar nerve is affected, sciatica symptoms may
5.) An onset of Pinched Nerve symptoms may arise, particularly
in the area of the cervical spine.
Possible Treatments for Facet
1.) Physical Therapy –
helps maintain flexibility in the joints, maintains maximum
scope of motion, enhances circulation and aids in oxygenation.
2.) Drugs – over-the-counter
or prescription medications.
3.) Heat Therapy – if
this type of therapy works, it may mean that Facet Syndrome
may not be the real cause of the pain symptoms. Heat therapy
is normally used to relieve pain from oxygen deficiency or
muscle strains, atypical of most skeletal treatments.
4.) Chiropractic – if
the chiropractic method of bone manipulation works, the pain
symptoms may not be due to Facet Syndrome at all.
5.) Posture – correcting
the posture or assuming the proper posture may be all it takes
to relieve sufferers of back pain.
6.) Acupuncture – an
ancient holistic remedy for pain relief.
7.) Surgery – usually
the last resort, Laminectormy or spinal fusion may be undertaken
to relieve acute pain. Some of the newer treatment procedures
kill the nerve endings in the affected facet joint. Known
as Facet Rhizotomy, it involves a minimal invasive process
and may ultimately be preferable to open surgery.
Additional information on
treatment options can be found in the TREATMENT page.
the Treatment Facet Joint Syndrome
Facet Joint Syndrome is normally
caused by advancing age. Most people will, at some older stage
in their life, experience symptoms of this condition. Minor
symptoms are not usually a cause for concern. They may be
remedied by thorough research on the condition (knowledge
therapy), and natural and holistic treatments which are preferable
to prescription or over-the-counter medication.
It is likely that severe pain
symptoms may not stem from Facet Joint Syndrome, and if surgery
becomes the only alternative, it is advisable to ascertain
that the correct diagnosis has been made.