Facet Mediated Pain

What is a facet mediated pain?

Facet mediated pain, commonly referred to as facet syndrome, facet capsulitis/synovits or facet joint dysfunction, is a condition affecting the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine. It is characterised by a sharp pain that is aggravated by movements such as leaning backward and rotating.  Many painful conditions such as whiplash and wry neck often have some type of  facet joint injury.

What is a facet joint?

Facet joints are the joints that connect all the vertebrae in your back. They are formed by the inferior articular process of the vertebrae above and the superior articular process from the vertebrae below. Surrounded by a fibrous capsule they contain cartilage and menisci, which act as a shock absorber similar to the knee, and synovial fluid to lubricate the structures inside and help with movement. They provide stability and mobility for the spine, with each spinal level working in congruence with the joints above and below. The orientations of our facet joints differ as you go down the spine allowing for different ranges of motion. Our facet joints are highly innervated by nerves, which provide sensory input to the nervous system. They play an important role in allowing your joints to know where they are in space and to coordinate joints efficiently and with stability. Injured or inflamed facet joints can mimic  serious injuries such as a disc injury or sciatica, and can refer pain to different areas of the body.



What causes facet mediated pain?

There are many causes of facet joint pain. Here are a few examples:

  • Sustained poor posture
  • Whiplash or trauma
  • Weak stabilisers (such as the core and the deep neck flexors)
  • Overuse/overstretching the capsule
  • Faulty biomechanics

Any number of the structures mentioned above could be the cause of the pain. Because of the small size and close proximity of all the structures in the joint, it is difficult to determine what specific structure is compromised in the joint.

How can Chiropractic help?

At In Good Hands Chiropractic our highly qualified staff offer hands on  techniques such as manipulation and mobilisations, that can used to treat facet mediated pain. Chiropractic care can help:

  • Reduce pain
  • Increase joint movement
  • Help surrounding joints to function normally

As a result of the facet joint being injured, the surrounding muscles tend to tense up and shorten to protect the joint from further injury. Methods such as soft tissue release, dry needling and muscle stretching can be used together with specific manual therapy techniques to promote the healing process and desensitize your pain. Preventive techniques can be employed to decrease the likelihood of any further flare ups such as rehabilitative exercises that are given for you to perform at home to ensure strengthen the surrounding area and to help avoid the joint from being under increased load in the future.

In Good Hands Chiropractic offers a safe, non-intrusive, and most importantly a long-lasting form of neck pain relief that benefits all members of the family.

For more information or to book an appointment call us on 02 8095 0393 or book online


Article by Chiropractor Dr. David Russo (Chiropractor )BChirSc, MChiro



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