Facet Syndrome

Let’s take a look at facet syndrome.

Facet syndrome is the irritation of the structures that form the facet joints – the small joints in the spine, which control movement. These can be irritated by pinching or stretching of the capsular ligaments which surround the joint, as a result of repeated micro-trauma, or as a result of local inflammation. Facet syndrome classically includes pain referred away from the location of the injury, which may follow typically pain referral patterns. Pain at the site of the facet is often a local, sharp or pinching sensation, whilst the referred pain is often duller, more achey and more diffuse. Stiffness or locking of the affected joint is a common sign, and the surrounding muscles may tense up, or even go into spasm, to protect the damaged joint. Both the original locking, and the resultant muscle spasm can result in very painful, or outright limited motion in a certain movement; and may even experience antalgia – that is, a posture or gait designed to hold a less painful position, such as leaning the body to the side; or keeping the neck flexed.

Facet syndrome has a nasty habit of becoming a recurring problem for the individual sufferer, sometimes lasting hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks; but often coming back. Regular exercise, and manual therapy seem to work best at reducing these recurrences.

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