Facet Joint Syndrome

One of the most common causes of spine-related pain, facet syndrome occurs when the facet joints (connections between the vertebrae) become inflamed. The facet joints are like all other joints in the body, in that they enable bending and twisting movements between bones. When they are inflamed from things such as injury or arthritis, the spine becomes stiff and painful.

Facet syndrome in the neck or cervical spine can cause headaches and difficulty rotating the head in addition to pain in the affected area. Symptoms include needing to turn the entire body to look to either side, and pain may manifest in the shoulders or middle and low back, as far down as the thighs.


Each vertebra has two sets of facet joints: one connecting to the vertebrae above and one connecting to the vertebrae below. The facet joints allow for movement between each individual vertebrae of the spine.

The facet joints are under constant stress from general motion and posture or extreme bending of the trunk. Repetitive or excessive movements, especially in rotation or extension of the trunk, can irritate and injure facet joints. Also, abnormal spinal biomechanics and bad posture can significantly increase daily spinal stresses and accelerate the wear and tear on facet joints.