Lumbar Facet Joint Pain - Fact Sheet
What is Lumbar Facet Joint Pain ?
Lumbar facet joints are small joints between the lumbar vertebrae, which allow for extension (arching backwards) and rotation movements. These can become irritated and inflamed with activities that repeatedly load these joints, or sore with flare ups of joint changes such as osteoarthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Lumbar Facet Joint Pain ?
• Localised low back pain, worse with particular movements (e.g. arching backwards)
• Morning stiffness
Treatment and Management Lumbar Facet Joint Pain?
Hands-on-treatment: mobilisation of the facet joints of the lumbar spine can be beneficial in reducing the irritation present.
Stretching exercises: stretching into lumbar flexion (e.g. knees to chest stretch) can help take pressure off the facet joints.
Strengthening exercises: the most important part of treatment for facet joint pain. Improved muscular strength in the deep abdominals, lumbar musculature and buttocks can help improve pain and prevent re-injury.
Other things to be aware of:
Be aware of your posture: Poor posture can be a precursor to facet joint pain. Avoid positions that put pressure onto the facet joint, such as prolonged or repetitive arching.
Lifting: Try and limit the amount of lifting you have to do. If you must, lift the load close to the body, keeping your back straight, squeezing your gluteals. Remember to bend your knees and use your leg muscles.
Take medication: During acute flare ups, painkillers and anti-inflammatories can help control the severity of your symptoms. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what medication is right for you and be aware of possible side effects. In severe cases, medication can control the pain so that physical activity can begin.
Flare ups: Re-occurrences of facet joint low back pain often occur, but it is important to remember that this is a normal part of the recovery process. Complete rest (such as bed rest is NEVER the answer – keep moving, keep positive – your symptoms will eventually settle down.