Home Blog The Truth About Facet Syndrome: Your Ultimate Guide

The Truth About Facet Syndrome: Your Ultimate Guide

Oct 9, 2023 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

As previously discussed in earlier articles, it's important to understand that low back pain (LBP) can originate from various sources. Lumbar facet syndrome is one such source, affecting the facet joint and presenting in both acute (recent) and chronic (long-standing) forms. The facet joint is essentially the same as the zygapophyseal joint, so don't be perplexed if you come across that terminology. It's noteworthy that approximately 45% of individuals with chronic low back pain experience "facet syndrome" (FS), where the facets are the root cause of the low back pain.

Facet syndrome can manifest due to various underlying conditions. Some of these factors encompass the straining of the adjacent joint capsule (which maintains joint stability), reduced joint mobility, the presence of a synovial cyst (akin to a ganglion cyst on the back of the wrist but located within the joint), and degeneration, also known as osteoarthritis, which is the wear-and-tear type of arthritis.

Given that facet syndrome can co-occur with other conditions, it's essential for a chiropractic physician to assess each patient on an individual basis and provide tailored management. In cases of "pure" facet syndrome, it's worth noting that pain typically remains localized below the knee and does not result in neurological deficits, such as weakness or loss of reflexes. While numbness can occur, it usually does not extend beyond the knee. Furthermore, this type of pain typically does not worsen with hip movements like the straight leg raise or hip rotation.

The facet joint’s “job” (at least in part) is to limit or guard twisting movements in the upper lumbar/low back region, and the lower lumbar facets are shaped to limit motion when bending forwards and backwards. Facet joints are unique because they are innervated by specific nerves that can be blocked by injecting an anesthetic agent to determine if the facet (and its innervating nerve) is the main source of pain. The surrounding capsule around the facet joint contains mechanoreceptors (cells that detect movement) and nociceptors (cells that detect pain) that fire when the facet joint is compressed/jammed or over-stretched. These nociceptors can become “hypersensitized” (very irritable) when they remain inflamed over time.

In many patients, injury to a facet joint is the result of many microtraumas over a period of time and not one single isolated event. For example, repeatedly bending backwards, twisting, and leaning to one side can stretch the joint capsule and fatigue it until some capsular tissues finally “give” and it inflames which generates pain.

These joints commonly become arthritic with age, which is one reason people over 50-60 years old commonly present with FS. Osteoarthritis results in a narrowing of the joint space and causes a more permanently “jammed” joint. This is one reason many elderly people walk partially bent over—as bending forwards opens the facet joints and “feels good!”

The good news is that chiropractic manipulation is a highly effective treatment for facet syndrome, and most patients feel much better within the first or second week of care (often within three to five visits).

So, if you are experiencing back pain, lower back pain, or pain in the coccyx and type in pain management near me or chiropractor near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up. 

You may wonder, “Do I need an MRI scan of my back and who in my area can refer me?”

Also, if you feel leg pain it may indicate things are getting worse and may indicate a bulge on the disc or worse yet a herniated disc in your back.  Some people will try stretching the lower back first to see if they get relief from their back pain.  Pain very low in the lower back may be originating from the coccyx or tailbone.  A pulled muscle in the back generally will get better with rest.  Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional around you.

Check out what the experts say about chiropractic care for back pain here: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32749874/

Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at Coast Chiropractic Centers at (239) 278-3344 or stop by on your day off for a walk in visit and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment.

So if you find yourself experiencing lower back pain while running or doing physical activities or if you are suffering from back pain that is affecting your quality of life and allowing you to enjoy Fort Myers Beach. Come see us at Coast Chiropractic Centers located on 7270 College Parkway. 

Schedule Your Appointment Here

Coast Chiropractic Centers Map

If you would like to avoid getting back pain in the first place or to take a proactive approach to your health and wellness nearby, our membership program called Club C may be just the thing for you with great cost savings, convenience, and even more importantly, a plan to get your health back and keep it.

Don't let back pain stop you from enjoying the beautiful SWFL!  Dr. Tim Harcourt is here to give you the relief you need. 

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