Facet joints are little joints that can be found on the side of each vertebra. They connect each adjacent vertebra. Your vertebrae are the bones that form your spinal column. Facet joints prevent excessive spinal movement and they support your body weight.
Cartilage cushions the facet joints and surrounds each joint.
What is facet joint dysfunction?
Facet joint dysfunction has several different names such as a sprained facet joint or facet joint pain. If one of your facet joints has too much force applied to it, the surrounding connective tissue can tear or there may be damage to the cartilage which will cause pain.
What causes facet joint dysfunction?
Too much bending backwards, sideways of forwards is often a cause of facet joint dysfunction.
Lots of the same repetitive movement can cause facet joint syndrome to come on gradually over a period of time or it may occur instantly due to a sudden movement or injury.
What are the symptoms of facet joint dysfunction?
Often you will experience a rapid onset of back pain when you are doing the activity that causes the dysfunction though you may also experience stiffness and pain after the activity that has caused the dysfunction and you may feel symptoms the next morning.
Pain is often felt on a single side of your spine and sometimes it can be felt in the leg or buttock on the affected side- this is known as referred pain. You may also feel muscle spasms around the affected facet joint.
Your symptoms may be made worse when doing: twisting, forward bending, sideways bending, arching backwards or when sitting for a long time.
How is facet joint dysfunction diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist will complete a full subjective and objective assessment when you come in for your first appointment. On assessment they will be able to diagnose facet joint dysfunction or see if something else is causing your symptoms. A CT scan or MRI scan can be used to confirm diagnosis.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for facet joint dysfunction?
After you have been assessed your physiotherapist will provide you with your treatment programme. Each treatment programme is individual and treatment varies person to person depending on your symptoms and treatment goals.
Treatment for lumbar facet joint dysfunction may include:
- Joint mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Soft tissue massage
- Heat/ice therapy
- Advice and education
- Strengthening exercises
- Postural exercises
- Activity modification advice
- Graded return to sports
- Anti-inflammatory advice
Benefit of physiotherapy for facet joint dysfunction?
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for facet joint dysfunction and there are several benefits of physiotherapy. Our goal is to get you back to your best as quickly as possible.
Benefits of physiotherapy include:
- Decreased pain
- Increased flexibility and range of movement
- Increased strength
- Prevention of re-injury
- Improved posture