WHAT IS IT? CERVICAL FACET JOINT DYSFUNCTION
A facet joint is also referred to as an apophyseal joint or a zygopophyseal joint.
There is a facet joint either side of each vertebral level of the spine. It locks one level of the spine to the level above.
A facet joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, and there is cartilage within the joint. The joint can be sprained, locked, stiff, or degenerative.
A facet joint can become locked in the neck. This often occurs following a rapid movement. It is extremely painful and restrictive to movement of the neck.
Signs & Symptoms
Sudden onset of pain
Sharp pain on movement of the neck
Pain affecting one side of the neck
Tilting of head away (list) from the painful side
What Causes It?
Poor stability of the deep stabilising neck muscles
How to Self Manage
Avoid moving the neck into painful positions
If tolerated, and if spasm is prominent, heat can be used to decrease pain and relax muscle spasm
Can resolve spontaneously, but if pain and restriction continues, medication and manual treatment would be of benefit.
How Physio Helps
Prescription of exercises to address muscle tightness
Prescription of strengthening exercises to improve stability of the neck