Facet Syndrome

Pain Relief From Facet Syndrome With Chiropractic Care and Spinal Decompression Therapy 

facet syndrome

Low back pain isn't always about a herniated disc. The joints at the back of the vertebra have their own method of causing pain and it can be just as painful. The good news is that there is hope. Personalized chiropractic care along with non-surgical spinal decompression therapy can go a long way in alleviating the pain from facet syndrome. 

Let's explore further about what the facet joints are, how they cause pain, and what you can do about treating this painful condition.

What Are Facet Joints?

Spinal bones connect together through interlocking bones called facets. Another name for facet joints is the zygapophysial joints. These joints help to make your back bendable and able to move and twist. Nerves pass through these joints and the facet joints are responsible for about 20% of the total movement of the spine.

The facet joint is diarthrodial, which means "to connect to two bones". Each facet joint has a joint capsule or cavity that surrounds the joint, and it is immersed in a fluid. The disc and two facet joints are part of a three-joint complex. The complex consists of the interior facet joints, exterior facet joints, and the disc. Facet joints are susceptible to pain because of the nerves that they contain. The facet joints support the spine and help to guide proper movement. They are particularly vulnerable to degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

The lower back has five vertebral bodies and nestled between them are the facet joints. The facet joints run in pairs, and they are true synovial joints, which means they are surrounded by a thick membrane to facilitate movement. The lumbar facet joints are larger and provide greater stability to the body. It gives more rotation and helps to resist compressive forces. Lumbar facets have small meniscus, like cartilage, between the joints.

The way the facet joint is orientated determines how it allows motion. They guide the spine and allow for forward and backward movement. The neck also has facet joints. In the neck, the facets have an incline. The facets carry about 17% of the weight of the spine and are sensitive to adjustment.

Services That Work Best For This Condition

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personalized chiropractic care

Chiropractic Care


Spinal X-Rays

spinal decompression

Spinal Decompression

pemf therapy

PEMF Therapy

What Is Facet Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome is the pain between the joints of the spine. A healthy facet joint allows for a variety of spinal motions. When a facet joint is compressed, misaligned, or arthritic, then this can cause facet syndrome. Facet syndrome is commonly found in individuals between the ages of 40 and 70. It may also be present in people who have had a spinal injury.

The fluid in the joints requires proper motion to keep the fluid circulating. Facet syndrome is thought to be one of the leading causes for lower back pain. If the facet joints become swollen, then this can be osteoarthritis. The joints become compressed, and it can cause symptoms such as compression, arthritis, and pain.

When there is pressure on the nerves in between the joints, this causes pain.

The smooth cartilage in the joint will begin to wear out and break down. The texture of it becomes irregular. This will make it more difficult for the joint to move. It can also make it more painful for the joint to move.

When making a diagnosis, there will be a few different methods to precisely indicate the cause. The doctor might perform a physical examination. He or she also might take MRI, X-Ray, or other digital images to determine what is going on below the surface and get an idea of what is happening.

Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome

There are a variety of factors that can impact the body and cause facet joint syndrome. Due to chronic misalignment and trauma, facet joints can become locked together. Facet syndrome is essentially a sprain and the pain level depends on the severity of the injury. It is an arthritic like condition that potentially millions of people suffer from.

Sometimes the joint capsule has a fold that projects in between the joint surfaces and inwards. This is called meniscoid entrapment. In these cases, there is an almost instantaneous effect with pain relief.

Repetitive movements, such as bending over, again and again, can cause facet syndrome. Obesity may also play a role in this disease. Other factors, such as poor posture, can cause facet syndrome to present itself.

Wear and tear of the joint is a natural part of aging. This happens to nearly everyone if they live long enough. Sitting too much, compression injuries or other causes can mean that the disc shifts and gets squished. High contact sports can also produce wear and tear on the vertebrae.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Syndrome

One symptom that many experience is that they have to move their entire bodies left or right in order to see. They also may have to move their bodies instead of turning their neck. If the swollen joint is in the neck, the person might experience headaches or pain in that area. If the swollen joints are in the back, it could cause pain in the buttocks, thighs, or back.

The pain and stiffness associated with facet joint syndrome can make it difficult to stand up straight or to get in and out of a chair. The person also might walk in a hunched over way. When the joint becomes too swollen, it could cause a pinched nerved. This is known as facet hypertrophy.

Back pain can be attributed to a variety of factors, but episodes due to facet syndrome have a few distinct characteristics.

  • Chronic back pain with periodic flare ups
  • Extension (leaning back) and rotation (twisting) increases side pain
  • Flare ups are begin when rising from the bent position
  • The pain in facet syndrome is localized to the spine itself, no radiating symptoms in the arms or the legs
  • Imaging (X-rays, MRI, CT) will show facet edema or degeneration

Sometimes the painful facet is a hypermobile segment (a joint that moves too much). Quite often, the pain is localized to one side of the body. It can typically be higher or lower than where the facet joint injury is.

What Is Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression therapy involves helping to promote the flow of spinal fluid. This spinal fluid provides oxygen for the joints and the joint cartilage.

Sufferers from fact syndrome get relief by having the bones of the spine gently separated. This results in pressure being alleviated from the jammed facet joints. With spinal decompression, gravity is used to reduce the weight that is put on the facets. In this way, it is possible to alleviate pain and to treat facet syndrome.

Decompression allows the blood to flow around the facet joints. This can allow for healing to take place when there is more space. Spinal decompression is a nonsurgical method of treating pain. Some decompression involves a lumbar decompression table. It is a motorized table that is specially designed to relax the spine and stretch.

The movement of the table can create negative pressure between the discs, and it can allow the misaligned disc material to put it back in the right location. Relieving the pressure will help the spinal area to take in nutrients and blood flow.

During the process of decompression, the patient does not feel pain. It is a stretching feeling and more like allowing fluid into the spine. Spinal decompression targets the source of the pain. A decompression course can last between 15 and 20 sessions. The session can involve physical therapy exercises and traction treatment. The exact duration depends on the needs of different patients.

Many experience a huge relief in just a few session. For the best results, following the course will help to set foundations and to stabilize the spine. Providing structure to the vertebrae will let it heal and reduce the hypermobility of the spine

Some Forms of Chiropractic Care

Spinal decompression therapy and chiropractic care are currently the some of the best non-surgical forms of care for facet syndrome. Some people also undergo physical therapy to ease the symptoms. Anti-inflammatories, as well as exercise therapy, are used in conjunction for some people seeking relief.

Chiropractic adjustments can also be helpful in the conservative treatment of facet syndrome. Massage and muscle stretching can prove to be helpful in the overall treatment of the condition. Conservative efforts applied consistently have good results over time. Chiropractic care can encourage blood flow to the area and help to reduce symptoms and pain levels. A rehabilitation program has a few parts. It can assist in calming pain, inflammation, improves strength and mobility, and returns the ability to perform routine tasks.

When some people get spinal adjustments, they can hear a cracking sound. This is the facet joint opening up and releasing a nitrogen gas bubble. Nothing is "cracking" or "breaking" when this occurs. Most patients find the release to provide almost immediate pain relief. 

Over time, this can help to reestablish the normal movement of the spine. A properly working spine is all about movement, and helping to fix the stiffness associated with facet syndrome will assist the spine to return to a normal pattern of movement. An adjustment will help to get the spine moving in the right way, which can lead to relief from facet syndrome. Chiropractic care can help in the long term to ease symptoms of a long term or recurring back pain.

An experienced chiropractor will be able to see where the vertebrae is bending too much. That is where the person will get the pain. To fix the problem, the chiropractor will work to restore the motion into the lower vertebrae. A way to fix the hypermobile segment sometimes isn’t to create motion in it. Instead, it is to create stability.

The chiropractor might adjust the facet with their hand while the person is flexing forward. When the person is flexing forward, it opens up the facet. The chiropractor will also prescribe exercises that will help to strengthen the core. The muscles do a big part in support the weight of the back and can help to alleviate pain. Initially, it would be recommended to avoid the movements that cause pain. Chiropractic treatment involves manipulating the muscles to help to ease the spasms.

Effectiveness Of Chiropractic Care

Treatment lengths of chiropractic care programs vary depending on what the cause and duration of the facet injury is. An acute injury might take from 4 to 6 sessions to experience relief. Degenerative facet injury will take longer to treat due to the nature and severity of the condition. A chiropractor will deal with the muscular, mechanical, and neurological problems and provide a treatment plan for that.

What are Benefits of Treatment for Facet Syndrome

During an examination, a chiropractor might ask you to bend forward and bend backward. This will help them know if the cause of the pain is from facet syndrome. Nonsurgical methods can transform the lives of patients. It can also to help the overall health of the person. This method of pain management can be effective overall.

A chiropractor will be able to recommend exercises and posture correcting methods that will provide an all-around healing for facet syndrome. It is possible to get back on your feet and in good condition without invasive procedures or surgery. It can effectively relieve pain in the lower back and pain in the neck or limbs.

The chiropractor will work on the vertebrae and restore normal motion in the facets. By restoring stability in the vertebrae, it can ease the pain that is brought on by facets that are hypermobile. If the condition is left untreated, then it can cause irreversible joint degeneration. A chiropractor can use tools and manipulations to help the joints to line up right and move properly.

Treatment for facet syndrome can relieve the symptoms of pain. Patients can experience better mobility and movement in the spine. It can improve the quality of life and well being of patients who have symptoms of facet syndrome.

Back pain from facet syndrome doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of pain. 

Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, spinal decompression and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment.