Facet joints are small joints on the sides of your vertebra that connect each adjacent vertebra- the bones that make up your spine. Facet joints allow for a small amount of movement and connect each vertebra to the one above and below. The joint allows spinal movement and supports the weight of your body.
Cartilage surrounds the joint and serves to reduce the impact of the bones on each other and cushion them.
What is facet joint dysfunction?
Facet joint dysfunction is also referred to as facet joint pain or sprained facet joint. If your facet joint is subject to too much force then there may be a tear of the connective tissue around the joint or cartilage damage.
What causes facet joint dysfunction?
Facet joint dysfunction commonly occurs because of too much bending whether it’s sideways backwards or forwards.
Facet joint dysfunction can come on due to lots of the same movement over time or can come on due to a trauma and the symptoms will be instant.
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 carry out a full assessment and examination of your thoracic spine and surrounding areas to find out whether you have facet joint dysfunction or something else is contributing to your symptoms. An MRI scan or CT scan can 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 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