Facet Joint Pain

What is facet joint pain?

In the back of the spine, the vertebrae connect to each other through a series of spinal ridges known as facet joints. Each facet joint connects to vertebrae above and below it with a cushion of cartilage and fluid in between.

Like all joints in the body, the facet joints can suffer from Osteoarthritis if the cartilage between the facet joints breaks down. If the joints move without their protective cartilage, it can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Facet Arthritis significantly contributes to lower back pain, and severe damage or bone spurs near the nerve root can result in cauda equina syndrome.

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint. This condition also greatly decreases the range of motion and causes inflammation that can be seen on the skin around the joint. Patients with arthritis usually report feeling the worst symptoms in the morning. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, a patient may feel a loss of appetite due to inflammation by way of the immune system. Severe rheumatoid arthritis also causes joint deformity and hand in hand with anemia by decreasing the red blood cell count.

What are the symptoms of facet joint pain?

  • Dull, aching pain
  • Movements like bending or twisting can worsen pain
  • Standing or periods of inactivity make the pain worse
  • Mimics the pain of a disc herniation
  • The pain made be felt down the arms or legs if bone spurs develop and press on the spinal nerves
  • Pain may be chronic or show up in flare-ups

What causes facet joint pain?

The body weight shifts to the facet joint, the cartilage breaks down, the joint space narrows, and the bones rub against each other.

  • Injury
  • Repetitive motions
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture

What are the treatments for facet joint pain?

Some treatments that can help relieve pain can include:

  • Applying heat
  • Using a cold pack
  • For lumbar facet pain, support the lumbar curve by maintaining a neutral spine
  • Stay active, but do not push yourself. Be active in moderation.
  • Avoid activities that worsen pain
  • Use a supportive brace

Epidural Steroid Injections

Steroidal medication injected into a painful joint space can help soothe pain in arthritic joints. Injecting corticosteroids into an arthritic joint will not provide permanent relief on its own,  it can dramatically reduce inflammation and pain. The effects can last anywhere between 1 week to 1 year. Injections for joint pain are usually one of the steps taken before resorting to surgery. In some patients, steroid injections can reduce pain to the point where patients are able to participate in Physical Therapy, which in turn can strengthen the surrounding muscles and eliminate the need for further treatment.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists diagnose and treat patients with medical problems or injuries that limit their ability to take part in their daily lives. Patients will usually see a physical therapist after a referral by their primary physician. Physical therapists work with patients who have experienced an injury or disease that has affected their movement and range of motion.

At Nextgen Pain & Injury Clinic, our team of licensed physical therapists and rehabilitation experts will focus on your total health and wellness. Regardless of the cause or source of your pain, we will develop a treatment plan with your unique issues in mind.

Our treatment philosophy emphasizes evidence-based manual and therapeutic exercise techniques that are tailored toward efficiently returning patients, athletes, and employees to their pre-injury status. We treat orthopedic and sports injuries, provide spinal rehabilitation, post-surgical rehabilitation, and industrial rehabilitation. Personalized physical therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions.

  • Chronic and acute medical problems
  • Knee pain
  • Back pain
  • Leg Pain
  • Ankle pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Chronic medical problems
  • Neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries


Our mission is to help patients to return to work, improve their quality of life, reduce dependence on medication and healthcare providers, and avoid persistent injuries.

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