Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joints are found between the vertebrae in the back of the spine. They are real joints, just like the shoulder or knee. When in good condition, they help a person to twist, turn and bend easily and without discomfort. However, the cartilage inside the facet joint can be injured or break down over time. When this occurs, the facet joints can become inflamed and cause significant neck or back pain. This painful condition is called facet joint syndrome.

Facet joint syndrome is categorized into three different subtypes depending on where the joints are located within the spine.

  • Cervical facet joint syndrome. Those experiencing cervical facet joint syndrome in the neck may find it difficult to rotate their head from one side to another or to tilt their head backwards such as when looking up. Difficulty sleeping and neck pain in the morning are common complaints. Frequently reported are headaches and pain that radiates into the upper shoulders and shoulder blades.
  • Thoracic facet joint syndrome. Thoracic facet joint syndrome occurs when the pain is experienced in the middle of the back. Those experiencing this condition may experience pain with turning, rotating or twisting. Tight and spastic muscles in the middle of the spine and pain that radiated to the ribs are symptoms of thoraic facet joint syndrome.
  • Lumbar facet joint syndrome. Lumbar facet joint syndrome affects the lower back area of the spine. This pain is typically located across the lower back but can also radiate to the buttocks and even as far as the thighs. Lumbar facet joint syndrome can make it difficult to sit for long periods, to stand up from a seated position, twist, turn or bend. Difficulty sleeping and lower back pain and stiffness in the morning is common. In severe cases, lumbar facet joint syndrome can cause an individual to walk with their back hunched in an attempt to relieve the pain.

Your First Stop for Facet Joint Syndrome Treatment

The Spine & Sports Health Center should be your first stop for facet joint syndrome pain. Request an appointment with one of our pain management doctors today.


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