Your diagnosis of Facet Syndrome usually manifests itself as a dull, stiff, achy back especially in the mornings upon arising and/or after sitting or standing for long periods. This condition is extremely common; like a cold most people will experience low back pain in varying degrees at some point in their lifetime. This condition can come on suddenly; however it usually gradually develops.
Facet Joint and capsule
Take a look at the diagram and notice the facet joint and its capsule. The nerve supply that you see going into the capsule and the joint itself is called the dorsal primary ramus nerve, and its function is to recognize the position of the joint as well as distention of the capsule surrounding it. When the joint gets to close to itself, (bending backwards) the nerve notices this and sends an irritation message to the brain. After the brain receives the message it sends one back, but not to the same part of the nerve (trace the nerve back to where it splits) but to the motor segment at the split. This is what tells your muscle to go into spasm. Spasm would help the capsular distention by pulling the joint back together and reduce the capsular distention, however it causes the joint itself to become closer to itself and lock down. This muscle shortening gives rise to the tightness you feel after standing for long periods (jamming) or sitting for long periods (stretching capsule).
The symptoms of Facet Syndrome can range from a slight dull ache to sharp stabbing pain usually when returning to the upright position when bent forward at the waist or when bending backwards. When the condition is ignored patient may experience pain around the pelvis region to the groin area, deep hip muscle pain, and/or pain down the back of the thigh, but generally not below the knee.
Common Causes of Facet Syndrome:
- Disc Degeneration and the aging process.
- Poor Posture.
- Sleeping on your stomach or sleeping on your side with one knee bent.
- Prolonged activity that requires bending backwards or forwards.
- Sits ups and leg lifts.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care:
Electric muscle stimulation allows you to get 45 minutes to 60 minutes of pain relief without medication, and allows for the doctor to move you around with less pain making manipulation more effective.
Ultrasound is a therapy that uses deep heat to effectively loosen up the muscle and ligamentous tissue as well as stimulate their healing.
Spinal manipulation and manual traction is used to restore normal joint function that perpetuates sensory nerve irritation that leads to muscle tightness and spasm. This is why chiropractic is so effective, it treats the problem at its source (joint dysfunction) and allows all of the cascading symptoms to resolve on their own. While symptoms of pain improve significantly early on, ligaments are slow to heal and need adequate time to regain strength in order for the facet capsule to stabilize.
Written by: Christopher Stine M.S., D.C.
Images from: Netter’s Concise Orthopaedic Anatomy 2nd E