Facet Joint Pain
What is a facet joint pain?
Facet joint pain commonly referred to as facet syndrome, Facet capsulitis/synovitis or facet joint dysfunction, and is a condition affecting the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine. It is characterised by that sharp deep pain, Typically, there will be more discomfort while leaning backward than while leaning forwards worse with pain that derives from the facet joints in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
What is a facet joint?
Facet joints are the joints that connect all the vertebrae in your back. They are formed by the inferior articular process of the vertebrae above and the superior articular process from the vertebrae below. Surrounded by a fibrous capsule they contain cartilage and menisci, which act as a shock absorber similar to the knee, and synovial fluid to lubricate the structures inside and help with movement. They provide stability and mobility for the spine, with each spinal level working in congruence with the joints above and below. The orientations of our facet joints differ as you go down the spine allowing for our different ranges of motion. Our facet joints are highly innervated by nerves, which provide sensory input to the nervous system. They play an important role in allowing your joints to know where they are in space and to coordinate joints efficiently and with stability. The facet joints can sometimes mimic pain, like sciatica, and become painful in different areas of the body.
What causes facet joint pain?
There are many causes of facet joint pain. Here are a few examples:
- Sustained poor posture
- Weak stabilisers (such as the core and the neck flexors)
- Overuse/overstretching the capsule
- Faulty biomechanics
Any number of the structures mentioned above could be the cause of the pain. Because of the small size and close proximity of all the structures in the joint, it is difficult to determine what specific structure is compromised in the joint.
How can Chiropractic help?
Manual therapy techniques such as manipulation and mobilisations can be used to treat facet mediated pain. Chiropractic care can help:
- Reduce pain
- Increase joint movement
- Help surrounding joints to function normally
As a result of the joint being in pain, the surrounding muscles tend to tense up and shorten to protect it from further injury. Methods such as soft tissue releases, dry needling and muscles stretches can be used in congruence with the manual therapy techniques. To ensure the healing process is continued outside of the treatment room rehabilitation exercises, tailored specifically for the patient, should be performed. This will promote self-management and strengthen the muscles to help avoid the joint from being under increased load in the future. Preventive techniques can be employed to decrease the likelihood of any further flare-ups.
At In Good Hands Chiropractic Petersham, our chiropractors will conduct a thorough musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and neurological examination to find the true underlying cause of your neck pain. Then design a treatment plan based on the cause, symptoms and the history of the individual’s episodes .Facet Joint treatment may involve soft tissue therapy to reduce any muscle inflammation or tension, and chiropractic adjustments. Take home exercises and advice will also be recommended, to improve the movement in the area and decrease the severity of your symptoms.