WHAT IS IT? LUMBAR 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.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pain and stiffness on one side of the lumbar spine
  • Aggravated particularly on extension
  • Reduced range of movement (in one direction)

​WHAT CAUSES IT?
  • Poor posture
  • Incorrect loading biomechanics
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Work or sport which is involves repetitive loading or prolonged postures
  • Associated disc pathology

 

HOW TO SELF MANAGE
  • R.I.C.E. protocol

  • After 48 hours and with chronic cases, heat is useful to reduce pain and spasm

  • Return to pain free normal daily activities and movements when possible

PROGNOSIS
  • If conservative management is unsuccessful then pain reduction may be achieved with a corticosteroid or anaesthetic injection.

HOW PHYSIO HELPS?
  • Assessment to identify why a facet joint is being loaded and is locking
  • Joint  mobilisation
  • Joint manipulation
  • Prescription of exercises to mobilise and unlock the facet joint
  • Massage to release tight surrounding muscles
  • Electrotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Core stability exercises including Pilates

 

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