Lower Back Facet Joint Pain

Our backbone got 33 vertebrae which help us to protect our spinal cord which is one of the major structures of the body. These vertebrae are separated by a jelly-like substance called discs which act as a shock absorber and helps the spine to move in different directions. Every vertebra has two pairs of joints upward and downward which are called facet joints. Because of different issues like overuse, ageing, low bone density etc., these facet joints become damaged which may result in facet joint syndrome. If your pain is in lower back then the pain is called lower back facet joint pain syndrome.

How does lower back facet joint pain happen?

There are different causes of facet joint pain syndrome. Wear and tear of the facet joint is the most common reason for facet joint pain which is also called spondylosis or osteoarthritis. Ageing or secondary to injury of the facet joint is the main reason for spondylosis. Damage to these joints produces extra bony growth named as osteophytes which actually, grow to repair these damages. These osteophytes can cause stiffness in the spine and sometimes impinge the nearby structures like nerves, ligaments etc. and produces pain, discomfort, numbness which are usual complain of the patients.

What are the symptoms of lower back facet joint pain?

  • Common symptoms are:
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Radiating pain
  • Sensory problems
  • Spasm
    Joint clicking

You may also experience stiffness in the morning which may be for a short period of time. It could take a short while for this to reduce.

What should you do if you have lower back facet joint pain?

If you feel any of the symptoms of lower back facet joint pain it is important to take help from medical personnel to get an accurate diagnosis. He or she may provide you with some radiological intervention like X-ray, MRI to get or confirm an accurate diagnosis. If the symptoms are less serious your physician may prescribe you with painkillers or anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the pain and inflammation in the area. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, you should begin a tailored physiotherapy programme as soon as possible to optimize your recovery.

Physiotherapy treatment for lower back facet joint pain

Physiotherapy treatment will include strengthening and stretching exercises to keep your lumbar spine as strong and flexible as possible. Myofascial Release (MFR) and heat treatments may be used to reduce muscle spasm and pain in the area. Postural advice and exercises are an important part of physiotherapy treatment to reduce any extra strain placed on your lower back. Other important treatments include:

  • Vertebral mobilization
  • Soft Tissue mobilization
  • Postural realignment
  • Core muscle stability exercise program

Without all these manual therapy programs they may also provide you with some Electrical modalities which will help to reduce your pain and improve your condition faster. It may include Ultrasound therapy (UST), Electrical stimulation, High-Intensity LASER therapy, Mechanical Traction etc.

What shouldn’t you do if you have lower back facet joint pain?

Try to avoid any positions that put unnecessary strain on the ligaments, joints and muscles of the lower back. This includes standing and sitting for a long period of time such as driving and typing. Heavy lifting and repetitive movements including twisting and bending should also be minimised as much as possible.

Could there be any long-term effects from lower back facet joint pain?

If you ignore the symptoms of lower back facet joint pain, the condition will get progressively worse and it will be more difficult to manage. You will likely start to experience chronic (long term) pain which will increase the length of your recovery.

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