What is a Facet Joint?

The facet joint, also called zygapophyseal joint or apophyseal joint, is a synovial joint between the superior articular process of one vertebra and the inferior articular process of the vertebra directly above it and it is located along the back of the spine. There are two facet joints at each spinal level, one on either side of the spine. The facet joints are enclosed within a joint capsule that contains synovial fluid that reduce friction between the two articulating bony process. The facet joint is responsible for transferring load, guide and constrain motions in the spine, provide stability for the spine.

What is Facet pain Syndrome?

Facet syndrome, also known as facet joint syndrome and facet joint sprain, is one of the most common cause of back pain, especially in the lower back. Facet syndrome develop when injuries that causes excessive movement to the facet joint, which will in turn cause swelling, inflammation and pain. In some cases, reactive muscle spasm will develop due to the pain experienced in the back, resulting in a sudden severe pain and unable to move the spine comfortably.

What Causes Facet Syndrome?

There are several ways that one can injures their back and develop facet syndrome. The most common causes of facet syndrome are:

  • Recurrent micro-trauma –numerous small repetitive injuries such as bending to lift up an item regularly.
  • Locked facet joint – simple movements such as mild twist, awkward movement or an unexpected movement such as tripping can lock a facet joint. In most cases, this occurs as your facet joint motion exceeds your muscle control.
  • Diseases that affect the joints – such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Degenerative changes – degeneration of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine which can cause a pressure overload on your facet joints.
  • Meniscoid entrapment – when the soft tissue in between the joint capsule becomes trapped, causing a 'pinching' or 'catching' sensation

Signs and Symptoms of Facet Syndrome

Usually, patient with facet syndrome will experience pain on the side of injury, however, some patient will also experience referred pain to other parts of the body such as their arms or thighs. Some other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness of the back especially in the morning and after inactivity
  • Irritation of nerve roots
  • Numbness of regions close to the injury
  • Burning nerve pain
  • Loss of mobility
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pins-and-needles sensation

Treatment for Facet joint Syndrome

There are several treatment options for patients with facet syndrome ( back pain) ranging from home remedy to surgery. Common treatment options include: 

  • Ice pack for temporary pain relief
  • Posture correction
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Exercise and stretching programme
  • Over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Steroid injections
  • Dry needling
  • Electrostimulation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Flexion distraction
  • Mobilisations to the joint by a chiropractor
  • heat to relieve muscle spasm

If you suspect that you might have facet syndrome, please consult a physical therapist such as a chiropractor for a better diagnosis and best treatment option for you.

At Lakeside Chiropractic in Perths Northern suburbs, our trained and experienced chiropractors may assist you to recover from facet syndrome. We provide soft tissue massage, chiropractic manipulation, dry needling as well as electrostimulation therapy. Lakeside Chiropractic is central to Perth’s northern suburbs including Woodvale, yoking, Jindalee, Wembley Downs, Kingsley, Padbury and Hilary’s and is located in the centre of Joondalup on 3/45 Central Walk. We have a HICAPS terminal on site which means you can claim direct from your health fund on the day of your treatment. We are a Medibank and BUPA preferred provider but we are also able to process claims from HBF, HIF, CU Health, health.com.au, ahm, Defence and Australian Unity Health. Here at Lakeside Chiropractic our staff are well trained and regularly see visitors who they are able to successfully treat. Please call us on 9300 0095 or on the website www.lakesidechiro.com.au via the Book Online Now tab.

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