Almost everyone gets back pain at one time or another, right? You lifted that heavy bin the wrong way, your worn-out workstation chair is a nightmare, you were rear-ended, you carry chronic tension in your shoulders, you tried to return an impossible tennis serve and threw out your back…the list goes on and on. But what if you have occasional periods of acute pain and there’s no apparent cause? This might be a signal that your facet joints are in trouble.
The facet joints are small, cartilage-lined points of contact where each individual backbone (vertebra) meets the one above and below it. They both enable your spine to flex during movement and also limit its range of motion. However, if the cartilage wears thin, pain can occur. Things like aging (wear and tear), obesity (extra weight creates a greater burden), a previous injury or trauma to the spine, and weight-bearing jobs are risk factors for facet joint damage.
If you have had no recent back strain or injury but you are starting to experience episodes of upper back pain, lower back pain, or pain that radiates outward from your spine, here are 6 clues that your facet joints may be the source of it:
- The pain occurs occasionally and unpredictably, perhaps scattered over several months.
- When the pain occurs, pressing on the skin in that area may cause soreness or tenderness; the muscles there tighten in response to pressure or movement (guarding reflex).
- It may not hurt to bend or lean forward, but doing it backward produces a definite “ouch!”
- If the pain is in the upper spine (between the base of the skull and the top of the ribcage), there may also be shooting or burning pain that radiates across the shoulders and upper back, but not down the arms or into the fingers.
- If the pain is in the lower back, facet joint compression can send nerve pain down into the buttocks and the back of the upper leg (pain that shoots down the front of the leg, or below the knee, is a symptom of another back problem called a herniated disc).
- Sitting for long periods aggravates the lower back pain episode, and riding in a car may be nearly intolerable.
Chiropractic care can help reduce facet joint inflammation. If you need help with facet joint pain contact Lane Chiropractic on 6676 2270.
Article courtesy of Sperling Medical Group.