Understanding Facet Syndrome: Your Pathway to a Pain-free Life

Your spine, the body’s central pillar, provides you with both stability and mobility. Essential to this intricate system are the facet joints. Picture these as pairs of tiny hinges at each level of your spine, contributing around 20% to your neck and lower back’s twisting power. Housed in a small sack, these little workhorses are nourished by synovial fluid for seamless, frictionless movement.

Yet, life’s wear and tear, injuries, poor posture, or incorrect body movements can cause these small but crucial joints to experience inflammation. The result? A protective reflex gets activated causing nearby muscles to go into a spasm and leading to substantial neck or back pain. Over time, this relentless pressure can usher in a condition often described as “facet joint disease” or “facet joint syndrome”.

While the impact on spinal nerves is minimal, the discomfort is noticeable. Recognising the symptoms is your first step towards finding professional support and achieving relief.

Navigating Facet Syndrome Symptoms

Facet syndrome might trigger episodes of neck and low back pain that could spread into your buttocks, upper leg, shoulders, or upper back. The frequency and predictability of these episodes differ greatly from person to person.

Keep in mind that aging and wear-and-tear don’t always equate to pain. Often, it’s your body’s overprotective response causing muscle spasms to shield the inflamed joints, leading to a cycle of decreased mobility and heightened pain. While more prevalent among older adults, anyone can be affected, particularly those with a history of trauma or injury to the facet joints.

Should you feel pain spreading to your lower arm or leg, accompanied by numbness or a tingling sensation, you could be dealing with degenerative disc disease, often a companion condition to facet syndrome. Additionally, facet syndrome can result in changes in posture and tenderness over the joints. Frequently, bending backwards might be uncomfortable, while leaning forward may cause less discomfort.

Your Facet Syndrome Treatment Plan

If these symptoms are all too familiar, it’s vital to obtain a professional diagnosis. At Sussex Back Pain Clinic, our expert osteopaths can provide a thorough assessment to confirm your condition and draft an effective treatment roadmap.


Short-term symptoms (less than 3 months)

Our osteopaths excel at identifying the real culprits behind facet joint stress, like improper mechanical movements or tight muscles. Using their gentle, yet effective treatments, they aim to ease these pressures and encourage muscle relaxation.

Usually, it might take 4-6 treatments for significant pain reduction and a longer period for sustained benefits. Yet, enhancing your spine’s function, reducing facet joint stress, and avoiding acute flare-ups are all within reach.

While pain medications from your GP can provide quick relief, they often come with side effects and don’t tackle the root problem. Therefore, it’s essential to pair medication with the right treatment and advice to prevent repeat occurrences.


Long-term symptoms (over 3 months)

If your symptoms persist for more than three months, and manual therapy hasn’t helped, don’t lose heart. Although surgery is seldom recommended for facet syndrome, alternative treatment avenues are open.

Your GP might suggest steroid injections that can provide pain relief but don’t rectify the underlying issue, leaving the risk of recurrence. In such cases, consider IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression. We’ve successfully helped hundreds of patients with this technique, and we’re confident we can help you too.

At Sussex Back Pain Clinic, we’re dedicated to helping you overcome facet syndrome and live a pain-free life. Don’t let back or neck pain hold you back.

Book an appointment with us today and take your first step towards a healthier, more comfortable tomorrow.

Call us to book your appointment now

Frequently Asked Questions

Facet joints are pairs of small joints located at every level of your spine. They provide about 20% of the torsional (twisting) stability in your neck and lower back. These joints are in almost constant motion, aiding in the smooth, low-friction movement of your spine.

Facet syndrome commonly presents as episodes of lower back and neck pain. These pains can be intermittent, generally unpredictable, and might radiate down into your buttocks, upper leg, shoulders, or upper back. Other signs include postural changes, tenderness over the joints, and discomfort when bending backwards.

At Sussex Back Pain Clinic, if you’ve been experiencing facet syndrome symptoms for less than three months, our experienced osteopaths will work to identify the root causes of your facet joint stress. Treatment typically involves gentle, effective methods to correct these stresses and relax your muscles. This process may require 4-6 treatments to alleviate the pain and more sessions to sustain the improvement.

If you’ve been dealing with long-term facet syndrome symptoms, we recommend considering IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression. This non-surgical therapy has been successful in treating many patients with similar symptoms. It aims to decompress affected spinal segments, improving mobility and relieving pain. This treatment approach, along with tailored rehabilitation exercises, can help address the underlying issues of facet syndrome and reduce the risk of recurrence.
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