Facet Joint Syndrome

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

This condition is a deterioration of the facet joints, which help stabilize the spine and limit excessive motion. The facet joints are lined with cartilage and are surrounded by a lubricating capsule that enables the vertebrae to bend and twist.

What causes facet joint syndrome?

  • Damage or stress to the facet joints
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Injury to the back or neck
  • Degeneration of an intervertebral disc

What happens?

The cartilage that covers the stressed facet joints gradually wears away. The joints become swollen or stiff. The vertebral bones rub directly against each other, which can lead to the growth of bone spurs along the edges of facet joints.

What are the symptoms?

Pain from the facet joints differs depending on which region of the spine is damaged.

  • If damaged facet joints are located in the cervical region, or upper spine, pain may be felt in the neck, shoulders, and upper or middle back. The person may also experience headaches.
  • If the lumbar, or lower spine, is affected pain may be felt in the lower back, buttocks and back of the thigh.