Facet Joint Disorders

facet_imgDiagnoses: Facet joints are joints of the vertebrae where they articulate. They provide stability without compromising flexibility of the neck. Facet joints permit motion by sliding on one another over a moist cartilage that provided lubricant for the joint. Often times with age, this cartilage can become worn out resulting in degenerative changes or “arthritis” of such joints:

Symptoms: Symptoms vary from person to person, depending on the severity and progression of the disorder. With increased levels of friction, the facets may become inflamed resulting in possible secondary responses of:

  • Decreased available motion
  • Surrounding muscle spasm
  • Impaired posture
  • Point tenderness
  • Radiating symptoms into the upper back, shoulders, or arms

Causes: General aging resulting in wear and tear on the spine and cartilage between the joints may cause such inflammatory responses. Other contributing factors might include years of impaired posture or repeated traumatic injuries such as those resulting from contact sports.

Our Physical Therapy Treatment: Physical therapy treatment will be patient specific and dependent on the severity of the disorder as well as the patient’s goals. Treatment will focus on:

  • Mechanical diagnoses/treatment for improved movement and pain reduction
  • Postural education and awareness
  • Cervical stability and strengthening exercises
  • Functional activity training

Patients will be provided education on how to manage symptoms independently in the future. Goals will be to develop a home exercise program allowing for continued gains and understanding of how to help themselves with their symptoms in the future.

Ray, C. (2002, December 10). Treatment Options for Facet Joint Pain. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/treatment-options-facet-joint-pain