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Facet Joint Syndrome

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What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Facet Joint Syndrome occurs when the facet joints get swollen and become a source of pain due to injury or arthritis. The facet joints are the connections between the bones of the spine. The nerve roots pass through these joints to go from the spinal cord to the arms, legs and other parts of the body.

These joints also allow the spine to bend and twist, and they keep the back from slipping too far forward or twisting without limits. Like the knee joint, they have cartilage to allow smooth movement where two bones meet. The joints are lined with the synovium and have lubricating joint fluid.

We have answers and options to relieve pain from Herniated Discs, Disc Bulges, Spinal Stenosis, Sciatica, Pinched Nerve, Annular Disc Tear, Degenerative Disc disease, Spondylosis/Spine Arthritis, Radiculopathy, Bone Spurs/Osteophytes and Facet Joint Syndrome.

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Symptoms and Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome


Often, facet joint syndrome is a form of arthritis, for which the root causes are unclear. What is known is that the aging process and severe injury can cause articular cartilage to deteriorate. As bones of the adjacent joints begin to rub together, inflammation is created. This inflammation causes pain, stiffness, and loss of function.


The age-related deterioration of cartilage can irritate the small nerves that innervate the joint capsule. Inflammation also promotes the development of bone spurs (osteophytes), which are bony projections that grow on the periphery of the joints. These bone spurs often remain asymptomatic, but they also might grow large enough to compress or irritate nearby nerve roots. If this happens, symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness might occur.

If the affected joint is in the neck, it may cause mild to severe headaches and one may experience difficulty moving the head. Twisting the neck from side to side may also be a source of pain. Stiffness, tenderness, and muscle spasms are common symptoms and sometimes radiating pain can occur down the arm or arms.

If it is in the back, it may cause pain in the lower back, buttocks or thighs. Stiffness, tenderness, and muscle spasms are common and sometimes radiating pain can travel down the leg or legs. Pain may also be present when twisting or arching the lower back.

If the facet joint becomes too swollen and enlarged, it may block the openings through which the nerve roots pass, causing a pinched nerve. This condition is called facet hypertrophy.

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