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Chiropractic Patient Information

Facets - Hardly known, often injured


What are the facet joints?

Of all the bones in the spine, these are the most unknown. Our body has lots of facet bones. You can find them on the sides of your spine. You are able to move and twist because of these "joints"..



What function do the lumbar facet joints perform ?

These joints help to restrict and control the motion of the spine. They help to guide and protect the intervertebral discs as well. In the lower back (lumbar spine) they help to constrain the amount of twisting and also keep the segments of the spine from slipping off of one another.


Why are the facet joints prone to degeneration?

The facet joints are covered with a thin layer of cartilage, and an interposed fluid-like sac helps to lubricate any motion, just like in the knee. The spine of a physically active adult undergoes as many as 1,000,000 motions per year. Because the facet joints constrain motion, they are subject to significant mechanical stress when they don’t move properly. Repetitive abnormal motion can lead to cumulative wear and tear. Microscopic injuries (tears and abrasions on the cartilage and ligaments that hold the facets together) lead to an inflammatory process that produces pain. If left unchecked, the eventual result is osteoarthritis.



What are the symptoms of facet arthritis?

Severe back pain is the most common complaint. This can be associated with leg pain that is almost indistinguishable from sciatica caused by a herniated disc. In addition, the symptoms are typically worse in the morning upon awakening and can be aggravated by bending backwards (in extension). Facet arthritis can occur in any part of the spine but is most common in the lower back.



The facets are often a secondary problem:

Facets become irritated due to abnormal motion. What causes the joints to move or track abnormally can have multiple causes. Poor muscle patterning, swelling, scar tissue from acute or old injuries and bulging discs are the most common conditions resulting in facet irritation.



How we tackle the problem:

First step is understanding the history of the injury and its constituent components then building a plan to address the components in the correct order. For example, if abnormal joint motion is due to scar tissue, then exercises may initially cause more pain because the joints are not moving properly. Most often, correcting the problem requires a multi-faceted treatment plan. Our basic approach to correcting this problem is as follows;


Step 1. Restore Joint Mobility

  1. Disrupt scar tissue from around the joints through specific spinal adjustments.
  2. Spinal Adjustments restore elasticity of the ligaments and increase joint motion.
  3. Improved mobility reduces mechanical irritation which in turn reduces swelling.

Step 2. Improve Mechanical Stability:

  1. Spinal Decompression promotes healing of damaged discs.
  2. Massage Therapy elongates muscles and improves circulation and flexibility.
  3. Specific physical therapy modalities are utilized to increase the speed of your recovery.

Step 3. Strengthen and Pattern

  1. To promote long-term recovery and undo years if not decades of poor posture and biomechanical adaptations, You are prescribed a strengthening program administered by one of our Personal Trainers and supervised by your Doctor.


Physical Therapy Clinic in Reno
Our physical therapist has vast experience in treating both the MPS and FMS patient with acupressure, dry needling, manual techniques, exercise, and modalities. ...read more
In-House Massage Therapy
Angelique Callegari has joined the team at Integrated Spinal Solutions in Reno. She is available for Deep Tissue, Pregnancy, and Sports ...read more

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