Lumbar Facet Joint Irritation


What is Lumbar Facet Joint Irritation?

Irritation of the lumbar facet joints is one of the most common causes of low back pain. The facet joints are the small paired synovial joints located on the back portion of the vertebrae. The intervertebral disc, on the other hand, is a fibro-cartilaginous structure and is located at the front of the vertebrae. The paired facet joints work in concert with the disc as a three joint complex, allowing movement between each individual vertebrae.

Common Causes

In most cases of facet joint irritation, the actual cause is cumulative – it is from the often repetitive, otherwise insignificant activities you do every day. Things such as sleeping posture, sitting posture, lifting, bending and twisting eventually add-up to cause irritation in the very pain sensitive facet joints. This is why low back pain from facet joint irritation often seems to occur suddenly and out of nowhere. For example, It is not uncommon for someone to bend over to pick-up a dropped pen or to tie ones shoes, only to be unable to straighten-up. When asked what happened, these patients commonly state “they must have bent over wrong”, even though this is a movement they have done virtually their entire life without a problem. The fact in this case is that it is not the actual bending movement that caused facet joint irritation, the movement was just a trigger – the problem had been building and bending was literally the “last straw”. Now the back muscles have gone into protective spasm.

Common Symptoms

Facet joint irritation typically causes lower back pain on one or both sides of the spine, often around the belt-line. The pain, which is aggravated by movement - and often leads to further painful spasm - can be so severe that a person cannot straighten-up completely. They may even notice that they are standing “crooked” when they look in a mirror.


The treatment for facet joint irritation begins with determining the exact level of spinal involvement, then working to reduce inflammation, break-up muscle spasm, and normalize the mechanics of the low back. As always, our goal is to offer our patients quick and cost-effective relief of their pain by providing the most innovative, scientifically proven combination of treatments available for their condition.

If you have questions regarding your specific condition or treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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Chiropractic Georgetown ON The Chiropractic & Sports Injuries Centre of Georgetown

The Chiropractic & Sports Injuries Centre of Georgetown
88 Guelph Street
Georgetown, ON L7G 3Z5
(905) 877-9996