Have You Ever Heard of Facet Syndrome?

Facet Syndrome is a disorder of the spine that is INCREDIBLY common and it can be INCREDIBLY painful. If you have ever been adjusted by a chiropractor – or if you’ve ever just self-adjusted your own neck or back – the popping you feel and hear is actually from your facet joints. Since chiropractors are uniquely qualified to adjust facet joints, that means facet syndrome is something that we see a lot of.

First, let’s go with some terminology. A facet is a type of joint in the spine. There are two facet joints for every level of the spine. There are 24 individual vertebrae in the spinal column, of which 12 are thoracic (middle back), 7 are cervical (neck), and 5 are lumbar (lower back).

The facet joints stack up on each other, bridging their way from the sacrum to the skull.

Chiropractors adjust facet joints.
Pen is pointing at the facet joint. That is the joint that POPS! when you get adjusted by a chiropractor.

These joints can become inflamed or irritated, or can become locked in place and painful, due to a variety of conditions. Bad posture can stretch and weaken facet joints, causing them to become chronically painful. Injuries or repetitive movements can jam them together and inflame them. Sudden falls or impacts can strain the muscles that help them move, or strain and cause micro-tears in the ligaments that help protect the facet joints.

Pain from facet syndrome can feel like a localized soreness or tenderness that is worse with bending forward or backwards. Ice may bring relief. Being still usually brings relief, though that isn’t recommended as a solution! Quite often the person suffering from facet pain will say that their back “feels like it needs to pop” when we ask them what it feels like.

The good news about facet pain is that, unless it is a chronic condition, it will typically feel better with a minimal number of adjustments. Assuming you aren’t screwing it up right after we adjust you, the joint should begin moving normally again and that will help the inflammation clear up. In short order the spine will move freely again and the pain will subside. Once you’re out of the painful phase, we will talk about stretching and exercising to keep the pain away and prevent recurrence.

If it recurs, as yourself what you are doing that may be causing it. We have literally thousands of patients here in beautiful Frederick, and we always ask how people hurt themselves, so if you aren’t sure what went wrong sometimes we can tease the answer out of you with some good questions.We have heard it all! People hurt themselves in some very interesting ways, although most of the time it’s not that exciting.

If you think you are feeling some facet joint pain then please give us a call or just drop in one day and say “hi”. Our contact information is here.

Additional information about facet syndrome can be found here.