Facet Joints connect spinal vertebrae to one another. There is one facet joint on each side of a vertebra so there are two facet joints per vertebrae. Like all other joints in the body, Facet Joints are lined with cartilage to allow them to glide easily over each other and a capsule of ligaments surrounding the joint. Facet Joint Pain occurs when there is degeneration of the joint. When the cartilage wears away friction occurs between the joint causing pain, stiffness, and/or tenderness. This can occur at any level of the spine but is most common in the lumbar region.
The symptoms related to facet joint problems are generally localized to the specific spinal region; cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), or lumbar (lower back). When the problem occurs in the cervical region, pain occurs around the neck and often radiates to the shoulders or around the neck. When the problem occurs in the lumbar region, pain is typically experienced from the lower back down to the buttocks or upper thigh area. Guarding or decline in spinal flexibility is also common.