Facet Joint Syndrome
The facet joints lie between and behind adjacent vertebrae and allow for bending, twisting and rotational movements of the spine. Under normal circumstances these joints glide smoothly over one another allowing for pain free movement in all available directions. Occasionally these joints are placed under prolonged periods of stress (i.e. extended periods of sitting with poor posture or prolonged standing or lifting and twisting). This may cause sudden overloading of the joint, the joint surfaces can become compressed together leading to inflammation, irritation and reduced joint motion or a gradual disruption of the joint resulting in a slower onset of pain.
What are the Symptoms of Facet Joint Syndrome?
Typically patients complain of localised pain in the area of the injured joint(s). Occasionally there can be referred pain into the buttocks, thigh or groin. Pain is often aggravated by movements which compress or stress the injured facet joint, i.e. bending backwards or to the side that is injured. The injured area usually feels stiff and movement is restricted due to pain.
How is Facet Joint Syndrome treated?
Facet joint injuries can be treated with a combination of hands on manual therapy and corrective strengthening and movement correction exercises. Hands on manual therapy usually consists of joint mobilisation or manipulation. Manual soft tissue techniques may be employed to restore normal joint movement and alleviate symptoms of muscle tension. Spinal decompression therapy may also be used to provide gentle and painless separation of jammed facet joints.