Facet Syndrome, also called Facet Joint Syndrome, is a common cause of back, mid-back and neck pain. Facet joints are the small joints located between each vertebra that provide your spine with both stability and flexibility. These joints are in constant motion as you navigate through your daily work and leisure activities. Routine movements of walking, running, sitting, twisting, or bending all engage your facet joints throughout your spine. The facet joint surfaces are lined with cartilage allowing them to glide easily over each other. The joint can be become damaged from an injury, inflammation or a degenerative condition, such as arthritis. Arthritis typically begins as the cartilage lining the joint surface shrinks and wears thin, causing stress on the bone, inflammation and enlargement of the joint. Boney over-growths called “bone spurs” can develop. Any of these occurrences will cause friction between the bones resulting in tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and pain. Often this causes your muscles to work harder to protect the injured area, making them go into spasm or become very tense and stiff. Although Facet Syndrome is generally the result of the natural aging process, the initial cause of Facet Syndrome, may be an injury such as a fall or car accident.
The symptoms of Facet Syndrome may begin as an ache in your neck or back that comes and goes. Then over time the pain increases and lasts longer and you often notice a loss of flexibility. Stretching, rotating or twisting your back sometimes increases the pain. Most patients find that the pain is worse at the start and end of the day, or with weather changes. The pain in your back is typically at the waist level and can radiate into your buttocks, pelvis or thighs. The neck pain you experience can radiate into your shoulders, arms and head, causing a headache and even aches behind your eyes. As you move you hear “bone on bone” sounds. Sitting or riding in a car for a long period of time can make you feel quite a bit worse.