Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet Joint Syndrome Overview Facet Joint Syndrome Causes & Symptoms Facet Joint Syndrome Diagnosis & Treatments

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Each segment of the spine has three joints that allow for movement. Each vertebra has two facet joints in the rear and a large intervertebral disc toward the front. The facet joints are the connections between vertebrae. This layout provides stability to the spine and allows you to bend and twist. When facet joints are injured — by trauma or aging — they can limit movement or make movement incredibly uncomfortable.

Facet joint disorders are some of the most common back problems. Unfortunately, facet joint disorders are commonly recurrent and are generally disabling for patients who suffer from them. You might be suffering from facet joint syndrome if you experience chronic pain and or severe spasms anywhere in your neck or back and it worsens when standing or leaning backward.


Facet joint syndrome is the general diagnosis of pain at the joint between two spinal vertebrae and is commonly referred to as osteoarthritis. Facet joints are very important, as they are what allow you to bend and twist. Healthy facet joints contain cartilage and are lubricated with synovial fluid, which provides a buffer that allows vertebrae to move against each other without grinding or pinching. Over time, a combination of natural aging and continuous pressure on the joints — or a single injury — can cause the cartilage to wear away. As pressure continues, the discs between vertebrae begin to wear down and can collapse. When this happens, the space between vertebrae is significantly reduced. When the osteoarthritis progresses, the cartilage and synovial fluid that protects the facet joints may be completely destroyed, leaving bone to rub against bone.

Facet joint syndrome is a very common form of arthritis and when seen in older adults, it is usually caused by normal wear and tear and can be exacerbated by injury — such as whiplash. Facet joint syndrome may affect younger people and is usually related to an injury or overuse. Millions of Americans suffer every day from this condition, but they find ways to cope and adjust their lifestyle for fear of surgery. When you visit the spine specialists at International Spine Institute, we can discuss a variety of treatment options that will put your mind at ease. Don’t suffer longer than you have to.


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