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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
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
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
- Core stability exercises including Pilates
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