The facets are the parts of the vertebra in the neck and back which form joints that enable spinal motion. Facet joint pain (facet syndrome) is common in people with back and neck pain. The facet joints produce pain when arching back (extending), as the irritated facets push together, they cause inflammation and pain as the sensitive nerve endings in facet joints become activated. The resultant pain causes a forward bent posture in an attempt to move the joints away from each other.
Facet joints are a major source of both acute and chronic neck and lower backa pain, the facet joint capsules undergo significant strain with lifting or prolonged sitting, and if degeneration (arthritis) is present, the symptoms are worse. Other causes such as injury of the neck, as with a rear end automobile accident, (whiplash), or the low back with lifting and or twisting to one side causes a deformation of the facet joint capsules, thus resulting in pain
The facet syndrome is often associated with chronic pain from the degenerative process often associated with arthritis. The front part of the vertebra with the disc generally astarts the degenerative process, as the height of the vertebra decreases, undue stress is placed on the facet joints which start to degenerate themselves causing additional inflammation and allowing for less pain free motion
The lower back, facet joint syndrome is characterized by: low back pain; pressure or soreness at the level of the involved joint; buttock pain, anterior or posterior thigh pain generally not below the knee, and possibly groin pain. The pain is worse with rotational movements; and during extension with respect to flexion. There is increased pain in transition from sitting to the standing, and reduced range of motion with stiffness in the morning.
Facet joint syndrome in the neck follows a similar course. Injuries to the facets are common in whiplash accidents and for those whose job demands looking up or holding the head and neck in extension, such as painting a ceiling. Keeping the head turned or cocked (cradling the phone with your neck) can also cause facet joint neck pain. The pain from the neck facet joints can radiate into the arms, between the shoulder blades and into the chest, and this pain can mimic a heart condition.
Restoring proper function of the facet joints helps to relieve pain, and improve flexibility and motion, making chiropractic therapy the treatment of choice for all facet joint pain.