Facet Joint Problems

The facet joints both are involved in connecting one vertebral bone to the one above and below it while still providing for surfaces that prevent friction between the connecting hard tissues. The intervertebral discs provide for cushion absorbing materials to allow the front of the vertebrae to stack on top of one another like blocks. The articular processes at the back of the vertebral bones, connected at the facet joints, connect the back of the spine like interlocking puzzle pieces. Together, each of the joints prevent friction between the bones, as well as for limiting the motion of the spinal segments beyond an unhealthy range. To provide for an additional source of protection against friction, the articular surfaces are covered with hyaline cartilage.

The facet joints, like the discs of the back, provide structural support to the spinal vertebrae, and prevent wear and tear of the vertebral bones. The symptoms of facet joint problems, notably inflammation and arthritis of one of more of the facet joints, may be similar to those of degenerative disc problems and other back conditions. For this reason, you will want to get the source of your back or neck pain properly diagnosed before you begin working with a specialist to treat it. Before we begin talking about the treating facet joint problems, we will show you how the facet joint works.



Located in front of the body of the vertebra, are a pair of superior articular process that extend upwards and two inferior articular process that extend downward. Each pair of superior articular process from one vertebra interlock with the inferior articular process with the one below it. This connection from one vertebral bone to the other creates one unified structure of interlocking segments. The facet joint, also known as the zygapophysial joint ,is a synovial joint one of the four processes meet. The facet joints helps to secure the connection to aid in stability, and it also creates a slick slipper surface to prevent friction and inflammation.

The jobs of the facet joints is to oppose bending or turning of the segments of the spine beyond a healthy range of motion and to protect each segment for anterior shear forces, excessive rotation, and flexion. When the four processes are structurally sound and the facet joints are in good working condition, the spine is able to move well, and we are able to bend and go without experiencing and pain of disability. Our normal levels of comfort may be taken away when there are facet joint problems such as osteoarthritis, structural instability from trauma, injury, fracture, dislocation, degeneration, and/or inflammation. Inflammation and arthritis of the facet joint may present with the same symptoms, but the treatments and prognosis for each problem may be much different.

Facet Joint Syndrome. The facet joints of the spine and they are in near constant movement and subjected to frequent pressures, on the one hand allowing from some movements, but also responsible for preventing the segments from bending beyond an angle that would hurt the spinal cord of nerves. One or of the facet joints may become irritated or even begin wear down over time or because of disease. Facet syndrome is inflammation of one or more of the facet joints where the vertebrae connect to none another.