Facet Syndrome



Facet syndrome refers to the pain that arises from the facet joints located in the spine. Each part of the spine consists of a three-joint complex, with the facet joints being located in the back portion of the spine and a disc in the front. This three-joint complex helps provides support and stability to the body.

Aside from pain, stiffness and soreness can take place as a result of the facet joints becoming inflamed. Pain tends to worsen after extensive periods of inactivity such as standing or sitting. In fact, the pain improves with movement of the body. This may explain why pain tends to exist in the morning after several hours of sleep and improvement throughout the course of the day. For those who sit at their desks most of the day with poor posture, pain will be felt.

Facet joint pain can be felt in three distinct areas, the lower back (lumbar spinal region), middle part of the back (thoracic spinal region), and upper back and base of skull (cervical spinal region). Facet pain in the lower back region tends to be more common than the other two regions given the fact that more pressure and motion is exerted in that region. Facet pain in the middle part of the back can be more attributed to the rigidness of that specific area of the spine and is less common than the other two regions. Individuals that experience facet pain around the cervical spinal region tend to complain of headaches and possibly a ringing sensation in their ears.

Whiplash resulting from car accidents, can lead to facet syndrome. Poor posture can also contribute to facet syndrome due to the unusual pressure placed on the spine. In addition, various other factors can come into play such as:

  • Family history
  • Being overweight
  • The existence of other medical conditions such as arthritis and gout
  • Overuse of the body