This condition refers to back pain with an origin of mechanical joint pain in the absence of disc pathology.
The facet joints are the posterior elements of the vertebrae which make up the dynamic motion afforded to us in the spine. There are a pair of facet joints associated with each spinal level. These facet joints are synovial joints and like any other synovial joint are susceptible to wear and tear changes, degeneration, and arthritis.
The joints are also surrounded by a thick fibrous capsule which is highly innervated with nerve fibers from the posterior rami of the nerve from the same level and the level above. Not only do these nerves innervate the capsule, but also the facet themselves along with the smaller muscles of the lumbar spine such as the multifidus, interspinous muscles, and interspinous ligament. This is one reason why back pain can be broad, diffuse, and vague. Facet joint pain can be caused by malalignment of the joints, instability, joint fixation, or loading stress of the joints especially when the capsule is stretched or buckled.
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The functional unit of the spine is comprised of two adjacent vertebral bodies separated by the disk and the posterior structures of the vertebrae or simply the joints.
In a functional unit, the superior joints of one vertebrae articulate or move in parity with the inferior joints of the vertebrae above and inferior joints articulate with the superior facet joints of the vertebrae below. Sounds complicated right? It certainly is. The more complicated a structure the more volatile it remains. The structures and joints of the spine are highly dynamic and require near perfect harmony for them to function in the absence of pain. Just like your car does not work 100% of the time and requires maintenance to keep it running, so does your spine to remain healthy and pain free. The reason that statistically 90 percent of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives is because of the inherent intricacies of the functional units of our spine.
As degenerative disc disease causes thinning of the disc, the facet joints begin to move closer together.
This proximity increases the load factor of the joints and can cause facet hypertrophy. This is characterized by enlargement of the joint and back pain. Facet Syndrome can be difficult to treat, and it is very important to have a qualified health care professional rule out more serious conditions since lower back pain can have numerous causes. Chiropractic manipulation can be extremely helpful in treating mechanical back pain such as facet syndrome. In more serious cases, our pain management physicians can block the medial branch nerve innervating the facet joint and block the pain for an extended period. Sometimes after the medial branch block allows for the pain and spasm to reduce, chiropractic treatments become easier and more effective. Long-term treatments for chronic facet joint pain can also be managed with radiofrequency ablation procedures.
Facet Syndrome can be very complicated and it is very important to have a health care professional rule out more serious conditions as lower back pain has a variety of causes.
You don’t need to suffer from facet joint pain
Call Texas Spine Clinic at 210-741-9166 today to schedule an appointment. Find out if simple chiropractic adjustments or pain management procedures like medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablation will work for you.