Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet Joint Syndrome refers to a range of disorders involving the facet joints. It is also know as facet joint disease or a facet joint sprain. Facet Joint Syndrome is one of the most common back disorders that cause lower back pain, thoracic pain and neck pain.

Understanding Facet Joint Syndrome comes with understanding the biomechanical role of the facet joints. The Facet Joints are the joints between the vertebrae of the spine. They are responsible for guiding and limiting the movement of the spine. They play a large part in communicating to the brain regarding the position and condition of the spine. They are therefore full of nerves, giving them the potential to produce large amounts of pain.

Facet Joint Syndrome is essentially mal-alignment or locking of the facet joints which can cause mild to severe back pain.

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What is the cause?

  • Stiffness (hypomobility) of the spine which is caused by:
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Lack of stretching
  • Muscle spasm
  • Arthritis in the facet joints
  • Joint capsule damage caused by:
  • An uncontrolled movement
  • Trauma to the spine

Signs & Symptoms

  • Back pain
  • A stabbing or sharp feeling near the spine
  • Decreased mobility of the spine
  • Pain, weakness or numbness in the limbs

What can we do about it?

Physiotherapy is very helpful when you are suffering from facet joint syndrome. The therapist will perform thorough hands on assessment to determine which of the facet joints is causing the pain. They will then proceed to perform a range of manual therapy techniques to unlock the facet joint and restore it to full function. The therapists at Elite Spinal Physiotherapy do not use rigorous manipulating techniques but instead gentle mobilisation techniques that yield great results.

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