What is the facet joint? What can be done for a facet joint injury?
When describing facet joints, you must imagine the spinal column, and how the bones align normally. The spinal vertebrae are vertically loaded. They “connect” or contact the vertebral body below. For example, starting with the cervical spine segments in the neck, I’ll number them for simplicity. Number 1-cervical connects with number 2-cervical, which in turn connects with number 3-cervical, and so on through the remaining cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebral segments. This site of connection is called the facet joint.
The facet joint injury is usually two-fold. Facet joints themselves are most susceptible to compressive forces. But the disc can also be injured. With increased spinal compression to the facet joints (lateral bending) the disc may protrude to the opposite side and cause pain.
An orthopedic surgeon who specialized in bone and joint disorders best diagnoses these types of injury patterns. Treatment and exercise advice for spine-related injuries (acute and chronic) should come from the physician. There are many exercises that can be done with facet injuries, but best to check with the doctor.
Alan Russell, ATC, PES, CSCS