Facet Syndrome

People afflicted with Facet Syndrome often complain of sharp or shooting pain and have numbness or tingling sensations in the legs. It is often worse when they bend backwards from the pelvis.

If we look at the vertebrae, the ‘facets’ are protrusions that extend from the back of the vertebrae and form a joint (facet joint) with the vertebrae.

When a person’s spine is functioning normally, the facets function as guides or supports for the spine and don’t provide any weight bearing as the body or main portion of the vertebrae and the discs are designed to do. The facets of the vertebrae are joined by connective tissue called ligaments that add to the cushioning and strength of the joints, similar to the disc cartilage between the vertebrae.

When the discs themselves begin to thin or lose height, or they tear, bulge, protrude or rupture, the result is that the facets themselves begin to get closer to one another. This causes the facets to begin to bear some of the weight that is normally borne by the vertebrae and the discs. This resulting abnormal pressure (compression) is the beginning of what is referred to as ‘Facet Syndrome’ or posterior facet arthrosis; leading to inflammation of the tissues and nerves, and often a tearing of the facet ligaments, as well as a degeneration of the facets.

Motions that require repeated extensions (bending over with straight legs, driving with your seat far from the wheel, or standing in one position too long) will overload the facet joints and cause inflammation, swelling and pain.

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