_Mountain View, Missouri (West Plains / Willow Springs / Winona / Cabool / Summersville) ---- Spinal Decompression Doctor, Russell Schierling, presents another blog article on Spinal Decompression Therapy.

(Everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask)
To understand Facet Syndrome, we need to first understand just a little bit of spinal anatomy.  Each spinal joint is made up of the disc, as well as the vertebrate above the disc and below the disc.  But we cannot stop there.  On the back side of each vertebrae are two joints.  The technical name for these is "Zygapophoseal Joints", but we will simply call them facets. 

Facet Syndrome is a condition in which these small joints in the back of the spine degenerate and subsequently cause pain. The facet joints are found at every vertebrae on both sides of the spine, and provide as much as one fourth of the twisting stability in the low back.  Facet joints also prevent individual vertebra from slipping over the vertebrae below. A small capsule surrounds each facet joint providing a nourishing lubrication for the joint.

Each Facet Joint has a rich supply of tiny nerve fibers that can cause terrible pain when the joint is injured or irritated.  Inflamed facets can trigger neurological reflexes that can lead to severe muscle spasms.

It is quite common for Facet Joints to wear and deteriorate.  When facet joints become worn or injured, the cartilage surfaces may become thin to the point they no longer exist.  The bone in the joint underneath can produce an overgrowth of bone spurs and an enlargement or thickening (hypertrophy) of the joints similar to that seen in both SPINAL STENOSIS & DISC DEGENERATION. When that happens, we say that the joint has arthritic changes, or osteoarthritis ---- which can be a source of considerable back pain.

Prolonged, uncorrected dysfunction and accumulated trauma can cause the joint surfaces to become compressed together preventing proper motion. This condition is often referred to as a Facet Syndrome. The fluid lubricant within these joints requires proper and complete joint motion to keep it circulating. Therefore, a Facet Syndrome can cause degenerative changes to occur by starving the cartilage of much-needed oxygen and nutrients due to loss of joint motion.  If not dealt with, the degenerative changes in the facets progress to full-blown Facet Syndrome.  Degeneration can progress to the point it is totally irreversible.

FACET JOINTS:  In the picture on the left (taken from above), you can see the two oblong surfaces on either side of of the bottom, back portion of the Central Canal (the large hole in the middle).  These are Facet Joints.  There are two more on the bottom portion of the vertebrae as well.  In the picture on the right (a side view with the vertebrae facing right), you will notice the bone that sticks up higher than the rest, as well as the bone that sticks down below the rest.  These are Facet Joints.  While the square vertebral bodies stack on top of each other like blocks, the lower Facet Joints of one vertebrate articulate with the upper Facet Joints of the vertebrate below it.


The symptoms of a facet syndrome generally include deep, achy pain in the neck or low back. The pain is often near the center of the spine and is more pronounced on one side of the spine than the other. The pain is often made worse by bending toward the affected side or extending you back backward. It is also extremely common to experience stiffness in the involved region of the spine in the morning that actually improves with activity or stretching.  Symptoms of Facet Syndrome are often aggravated by prolonged sitting, standing, or staying in any one position for very long.  This is why people with Facet Syndrome will sometimes almost kill themselves with activity ---- it's the only time they do not hurt!

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression  provides relief by separating the vertebrae and discs in a gentle, rhythmic fashion.  Although we typically think of this as being effective for the Spinal Discs, including things like DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE or HERNIATED DISCS, it is equally as effective for the Facet Joints.   As the vertebrae are separated, pressure is slowly reduced within the facet joints. Decompressing spinal joints can drastically reduce pain and dysfunction.  Also, the separation creates a NEGATIVE PRESSURE within the joint capsule that pulls much-needed oxygen, nutrients and fluids into the injured joint space allowing healing to begin.  It also pulls out metabolic waste products that can build up and cause cellular toxicity.

For more information, call Schierling Chiropractic, LLC, to check on availability and see if you QUALIFY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.  The phone number is (417) 934-6337.