Understanding the Spine’s Anatomy
The spinal column consists of individual vertebrae, each separated by an intervertebral disc. On each side, these vertebrae extend outward through articular processes, which together form facet joints. These joints, crucial for movement such as bending and standing upright, are covered by cartilage and include a synovial membrane for lubrication. Encased within the vertebral column is the spinal cord, shielded and extending down the spinal canal. Nerve roots branching from the spinal cord traverse through the intervertebral foramen, relaying messages throughout the body. The facet joints, encased by a joint capsule, play a pivotal role in stabilizing the spine and distributing load during movement.

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?
Facet joint syndrome is primarily a degenerative condition affecting the spine’s joints, where movement occurs. It can stem from wear and tear, trauma, or inflammation due to injury. This syndrome might coexist with other spinal and rheumatic conditions, and in severe cases, it can lead to nerve impingement, with symptoms radiating to the lower limbs.

Assessment of Neck or Back Pain
When evaluating neck or back pain, several aspects are examined:

•   Posture and spinal alignment to detect deformities.
•   Range of movement in the neck, lower back, and mid-back.
•   Sensory tests.
•   Muscle strength assessments.
•   Reflex function tests.
•   Nerve mobility tests.
•   Flexibility and stretching capability tests.

Management Strategies
The initial approach to treatment is conservative management, tailored to the patient’s physical needs, functional requirements, and both short and long-term objectives. Treatment includes strengthening core muscles (for lower back pain), stretching tight muscles, joint mobilization, manipulation, and massage. If these methods are insufficient, facet joint infiltration or injection may be considered. This procedure, guided by imaging, aims to numb the joint, alleviating pain.

For persistent back or neck pain, contact us at 011 027 2111 to schedule a consultation with our skilled physiotherapists.


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