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Struggling With Back Pain? Here Are 5 Signs It Might Be Facet Syndrome

In a recent study, the National Institutes of Health reported that 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The American Chiropractic Association* took the analysis a step further and found that of those 100 million individuals, 31% suffer from chronic back pain. Experts believe that 80% of Americans will experience a “back problem” at some point in their lives. A common cause of back pain is related to facet joints of the spine. This is a condition that can easily be treated without surgery.

In a Nutshell: What is Facet Syndrome?

The best description of facet syndrome along with how and why it develops can be found here. Simply put, facet syndrome can occur anywhere in the spine. Facet joints are small, located between each vertebra, and are in constant motion. They provide the spine with both stability and flexibility which allows us to walk, run, bend, sit, and twist. As our bodies age, so does the cartilage that pads the facet joints. Gradually, the cartilage will undergo wear and tear causing the bone to rub together – which can cause bone spurs to develop.

There are situations where these joints can be inflamed acutely as well as after whiplash injury or a sports related injury.” – Dr. Sassan Hassassian, MD

The most common symptoms – which can be confused with a number of other back pain conditions – are tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and the pain of arthritis. Here are 5 additional signs that you might be suffering from facet syndrome:

Sign 1: Lower Back Pain that Radiates into the Buttocks, Pelvic Area, or back of the Thighs

Because the facet joints are surrounded by nerves, sometimes, the inflammation can radiate pain to lower extremities of the body. When facet syndrome is found in the lower part of the spine, this is a very common symptom.

Sign 2: Neck Pain That Radiates into the back of the Shoulders, Arms, or Head

Facet joints are also found in the neck and cervical (upper) spine. Similar to sign 1, when facet syndrome is found in the neck area, pain can also radiate up to the back of the head or even to the back of the shoulders and arms.

Sign 3: The Sound of Bone Rubbing on Bone when you Move

Sounds horrible, right? You never want to get to the point where you hear the sound of bone rubbing on bone. Unfortunately, it does happen if the cartilage has completely been worn down.

Sign 4: Abnormal Curvature in the Spine

Pain of any kind is bad – and when it gets severe enough to compromise your posture, it’s highly recommended that you see a pain management doctor for an accurate diagnosis to begin a personalized treatment plan.

Sign 5: Back Pain that is Often Worse in the Beginning and End of the Day (or with a change in weather)

Facet syndrome and arthritis have many of the same symptoms. However, facet syndrome occurs when a joint is damaged through normal deterioration, injury, or repetitive trauma. Arthritis, as we know, is permanent.