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Facet Syndrome

Facet Syndrome

For some people, pain in their back can be caused by a condition named facet syndrome or zygoapophyseal joint pain. Though not a common malady, for those affected it can create significant disruption to everyday life. In most instances of Facet Syndrome, the condition is caused by a sudden movement which has applied trauma to the joint. Others find that the condition develops through long-term degeneration of the spinal discs.

The joints affected by this problem are located on either side of the body’s central spinal column, in between the disc and the vertebra. These connect with the facets of the next vertebra, both above and below, to create a continuous line. Each joint is there to stabilise the spine.

Detailed Overview

Causes and Symptoms

The back pain created by facet syndrome is typically located to one side or the other, rather than both. It will be made worse by bending or stretching the affected area, or by bending backwards and extending the spine in a way that adds pressure to the injured facets.

There are many theories about the causes of facet syndrome: some scientists believe that trauma and sudden movement causes pinching in the tissues between facets. These short-term inflammations of the area can cause back pain which lasts several days, as the swelling recedes. For those people whose pain is chronic and long-term, the causes are more likely to be similar to arthritic conditions and can result in constant pain.


Facet syndrome can be diagnosed by a qualified physiotherapist or a doctor, who may need to take an x-ray of the spine to see its condition. People suffering with sudden-onset back pain caused by a trauma of some kind will typically be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and rest. Heat packs, a back support or related products can also be soothing and useful during times of discomfort, as can massage performed by a qualified person who is aware of the condition and its manifestations.

Those with chronic forms of the condition or pain which has persisted for more than seven days are recommended to see their doctor, who may provide a back support to help the lower spinal region. This kind of support to the lower back can be useful in assisting recovery. It also helps with improving a person’s posture, helping to increase muscle strength to prevent future loss of stability. Exercises can also be used to strengthen the muscles in the back, which work in conjunction with the skeleton to support the body. Braces are also available to attach to seating, promoting good posture whilst driving, sitting or otherwise resting.

Back pain can be a serious problem for those affected, but there are a number of options available in terms of supports and braces to help limit its impact on daily life.