Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome is the degeneration or inflammation of the facet joints that connect the vertebrae in the spine, causing pain and stiffness in the neck or back.

Living with Facet Joint Syndrome can feel like navigating a complex labyrinth. The unpredictable episodes of back or neck pain, coupled with restricted mobility, can cast a cloud over your everyday activities. But here at Painless, we are devoted to helping you weather this storm, not just by easing the physical symptoms, but also by understanding the emotional weight of your journey, supporting you every step of the way.

Our Painless team is composed of not just highly experienced professionals, but also empathetic companions who recognise the resilience it takes to endure chronic pain. We respect your personal experience and see you as an essential partner in this journey towards wellness. We genuinely believe in your capability to regain control of your life from Facet Joint Syndrome. Together, armed with your insights and our expertise, we will shape a path towards relief and recovery that is as distinctive as your journey.


The basics

Facet joint syndrome is a medical condition that can cause chronic pain and discomfort in the spinal column. Facet joints are small joints located in the spinal column that provide stability and allow for movement and bending of the spine. When these joints become inflamed or damaged, it can lead to pain and stiffness in the back, as well as radiating pain into the buttocks and thighs.

Facet joint syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors, including aging, injury, or degenerative conditions like arthritis. The condition can be managed with a range of treatments, including physical therapy, medications, and injections. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove the affected joint.

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The presentation of Facet Joint Syndrome can vary from person to person, but it typically involves chronic pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips. Individuals may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and hips
  • Stiffness in the spine
  • Limited range of motion in the spine
  • Muscle spasms or cramps in the back
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Pain that worsens with certain activities or movements, such as standing or walking for prolonged periods of time

Symptoms may come and go, or they may be constant, and can range in severity from mild to debilitating. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, as prompt diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent further damage to the spine.

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Therapies & treatments


A physiotherapist can develop a personalized exercise program to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion, as well as provide manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and improve joint mobility. They can also provide education on proper posture and body mechanics to prevent further injury and manage symptoms.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy can help patients with facet joint syndrome to develop strategies to perform daily activities with less pain and discomfort, as well as provide education on proper body mechanics to prevent further injury.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy involves manual manipulation of soft tissues to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation. It can be helpful in reducing pain and stiffness associated with facet joint syndrome by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation in the affected area. Massage can also help to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body.

Pulsed Radiofrequency Ablation

Pulsed radiofrequency ablation is a newer type of procedure that uses a different type of electrical current to disrupt the pain signals from the affected facet joint, providing longer-lasting pain relief with fewer risks and side effects compared to traditional radiofrequency ablation.

Facet Joint Injections

Facet joint injections involve injecting a local anesthetic and corticosteroid medication directly into the affected facet joint. The anesthetic provides immediate pain relief, while the corticosteroid reduces inflammation, providing longer-term pain relief. The injection is done under x-ray guidance to ensure precise placement and can provide temporary pain relief for several weeks or months.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of platelets from the patient's own blood into the affected joint. Platelets contain growth factors that promote healing and reduce inflammation. The injection is done under ultrasound guidance to ensure precise placement. PRP therapy can be an effective treatment option for patients who do not respond to other conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or medications. However, it is a relatively new treatment and more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness in treating facet joint syndrome.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and corticosteroids may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation associated with facet joint syndrome. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine can help relieve muscle spasms and reduce pain. Corticosteroids such as prednisone can be prescribed for their anti-inflammatory effects.

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Self-care strategies

Posture Correction

Maintaining good posture can help alleviate facet joint syndrome symptoms. Avoid slouching and try to sit and stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your chin tucked in. You can also use a lumbar cushion or rolled-up towel to support your lower back when sitting.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Use a heating pad or warm towel for 20 minutes at a time, or an ice pack wrapped in a towel for 15-20 minutes at a time. Be sure to alternate between heat and cold therapy.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can develop a personalized exercise plan to help improve mobility, reduce pain, and promote healing in the affected area. They may also use modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or manual therapy to help relieve pain and promote healing.

Massage Therapy

A licensed massage therapist can use various techniques to help relieve tension, reduce pain and stiffness, and promote healing in the affected area. They may use gentle pressure, kneading, or stretching techniques to help release muscle tension.


Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants to help manage severe pain or muscle spasms. It's important to follow the recommended dosage and speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

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