Facet Joint Syndrome

The facet joints are the connections between the vertebras in the spine and they enable the bending or twisting movements of the spine. Each vertebra has two sets of facet joints. There is one joint on each side. The facet joint consists of two opposing bony surfaces with cartilage between them and a capsule around it. The joint also has fluid lubricating the joint.

Just like any other joint in the body, the facet joints can also become inflamed secondary to injury, arthritis or degeneration and they can be a source of pain and stiffness. The pain is usually well localized and it does not radiate into the limbs.

Most people who suffer from this problem typically complain that the pain is most pronounced first thing in the morning, decreases throughout the day and becomes worse again later in the day. The pain may also become worse with twisting or extension motions of the spine.

Conservative treatment is most effective for relieving the facet joint syndrome and it concentrates on maintaining motion in the spine.

  • Manipulative treatment - helps to relieve the pain and increases spinal mobility;
  • Exercises – to strength back and abdominal muscles, and to restore spinal flexibility;
  • Medications – help to relieve the pain and inflammation;
  • Physiotherapy - helps to relive the pain syndrome and modificates activity;

Surgery is generally not recommended for treating the facet joint syndrome.