Lumbar Facet Syndrome

Crick in the Back – Long Term Back Pain – Lumbar Facet Syndrome 

What does it mean to have a crick in the back?

The feeling of a crick in your back or spine is frequently associated with Lumbar Facet Syndrome. “Lumbar facet syndrome” describes acute or chronic inflammation of a joint in the lower part of your spine. Most people don’t think about the spine as having joints, but it actually does. Your back/spine is made up of blocks of bone called vertebra. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other with a shock-absorbing “disc” between each level that gives them flexibility. Along the back of each vertebra, there are two smaller bony columns (one on each side), capped with smooth joints called “facets”. These facet joints connect the vertebrae into a flexible column which is your spine. Lumbar facet syndrome means that your facet joints have become irritated and inflamed, which can cause pain and even limitation to your range of motion.


How do you get Lumbar Facet Syndrome?

Lower back pain can arise from a number of things, like sprains, strains, or joints that are not moving properly. You are also more likely to develop lumbar facet syndrome if you have suffered an injury, overuse your back, have arthritis or are overweight.

With such a wide range of potential causes, it’s no surprise that the facet joint is thought to be the source of the problem in a large number of patients with chronic low back pain. 


What are the symptoms?

When a facet is irritated, you will likely notice pain on one side of your back that may radiate into your flank, hip, and thigh. You may feel your pain in different ways. It may come and go, or it may increase with movements like when you arch backward or return to an upright position after bending forward. Many people report relief when they lie down. 


The symptoms of facet syndrome do not usually radiate past your knee, but be sure to tell your chiropractor if your symptoms include any radiation of pain below your knee, weakness, groin numbness, changes in bowel or bladder function, or if you have a fever.


Long-standing irritation to the facet joint is thought to cause arthritis, so it is important to begin addressing this as early as possible.

Potential Symptoms

  • Pain on one side of your back
  • Increase in pain with certain movements
  • Relief of pain when lying down




What is the treatment of Lumbar Facet Syndrome?

Fortunately, we can help customize a treatment plan for you at any stage of your symptoms. 


To speed your recovery, we recommend that you wear supportive shoes and avoid activities that increase your symptoms. Be sure to take frequent breaks from sitting. 


We may provide specific recommendations about using heat or ice at home, depending on our assessment. You may also need to limit heavy physical activity, but you should avoid complete bed rest. Yoga has been shown to help back pain sufferers, so you might consider finding a local class or looking for some videos online. If you need help with this, please ask us and we’ll be glad to help you find some resources.

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