know all about...

lumbar facet syndrome

What is lumbar facet syndrome?


Facet syndrome is known as "facet irritation". It is an inflammation that involves one or more facet joints in the back. 

The lumbar facet affects joints in the back of your lumbar spine, your bas du dos.

The facet joints are located in the back of the vertebrae, behind the discs. The spine can then make specific angular movements. 

They are covered by a soft and smooth cartilage, lubricated by the synovial fluid found in the joint capsules.

We could therefore say that the lumbar facets facilitate the flexibility of the back. 

When they are under too much pressure, they can become painful or inflamed and cause pain in the lower back and buttocks, even when sitting for long periods.

Each vertebra is composed of four facets. Two of them are used to articulate with the upper vertebra and two for the lower articulation.


The role of the lumbar facets

  • To guide flexion-extension
  • Stabilize the disks and limit the rotation movement
  • Partially support the weight that weighs on the spine

Wear and tear of the lumbar facets can be observed if the height of the intervertebral discs decreases. This can increase the percentage of weight transfer and deformities.

In addition to degenerative changes, pain in the facet tissues may appear.


syndrome facettaire

What are the symptoms of lumbar facet syndrome?


Lumbar facet syndrome usually occurs in the segments that make up the lower vertebrae.

These are the busiest segments. 

It is also possible to find a lumbar facet symptom in the cervical, dorsal or dorso-lumbar hinge.


Here is a list of symptoms of lumbar facet syndrome:

  • Tensions upon awakening
  • Discomfort when lying on your stomach 
  • Pain when you stretch backwards 
  • Difficulty moving your pelvis 
  • A feeling that your back is weak 
  • A difficulty or impossibility to run 
  • Muscle cords near inflamed joints 
  • Irritation of the back 
  • Stiffness in the lower back
  • Pain in the buttock, thigh and leg

Be aware that without proper treatment, this condition can develop into a chronic and recurring problem.


What causes lumbar facet syndrome?


Facet syndrome is initially favored by an overly arched lower back (hyperlordosis), weak abdominal muscles or sports that require repeated lumbar extensions (like gymnastics).

The lumbar facets support a portion of the weight that is supported by the spine. The load increases proportionally as the intervertebral disc degrades.

This overload compromises the regeneration of the articular surfaces as well as their nutrition. They depend on their mobility. 

What accentuates the lumbar facet syndrome are traumatic stresses, weakening or wear of the intervertebral disc.

The result can be a spinal dysfunction that is synonymous with a natural blockage. Joint degeneration will therefore be promoted and in some cases will cause pain.

The pain is usually due to the deterioration of the cartilage of the surrounding facets and ligaments. A false movement could be felt as pain.

Lumbar facet syndrome is a painful reaction that often increases with age.


What causes lumbar facet syndrome?


The pain comes from irritation and local inflammation of one or more facet joints. The nerve may be involved at its exit and create a pain that radiates. 

A spinal disc injury may also be present.

Facet syndrome is caused by injury to the cartilage of thefacet jointresulting from excessive movement, especially in rotation and extension.


This irritation can be caused by different types of incidents:

  • False moves
  • Repetitive movements
  • The rapid lifting of a load
  • A fall or trauma
  • Prolonged bad posture
  • Repetitive work or activity under adverse conditions
  • Increased lumbar lordosis (e.g. pregnant women, overweight people)
  • From theosteoarthritis

How to treat a facet syndrome?


Dhere are many ways to help you get through a facet syndrome. 

Ice can be applied first (20 minutes to 2 hours). Then, rest and complementary therapies including neuro-cryotherapy and kinesio-tapping are always appropriate to reduce inflammation and intense pain.

It will be important, during the healing period, to avoid activities that accentuate the pain, such as hyper-extension or rotation of the back.

Once the pain is controlled, spinal manipulations are the most effective treatment for this type of problem. They help to restore movement and decompress the joint.

Alternatively, soft tissue work (Active Release Techniques and Graston) and deep back muscle strengthening can be performed with or without ultrasound.

Stretching the associated musculature will also help you treat the facet syndrome.

A health professional such as a chiropractor can work with you to correct your posture. Depending on a case-by-case technique, weight loss may also be recommended.

In order to reduce the pain quickly and if necessary, it is often advisable to take anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and analgesics.

Alternatively, facet injections may provide some relief, but do not address the basic problem at the joint level. These injections are called "facet intra-articular infiltration". (or facet block).

Their purpose is to reduce inflammation and pain from the facet joint.

However, here are its side effects: 

  • An increase in pain for a few hours.
  • Redness and heat in the face,
  • The menstrual cycle can sometimes be disturbed. 
  • Blood sugar levels may be elevated in diabetics for a few days

Finally, surgery to fuse two or more vertebrae together is rarely necessary for facet syndrome.


What is the prognosis associated with facet syndromes?


With the help of manipulations and favorable conditions, one can see a noticeable improvement in 14 days and remission in 4 to 5 weeks. 

On the other hand, if treatment is delayed for several weeks, it may take longer and the patient may retain some sequelae. 

These after-effects will cause you to experience mild persistent pain, recurrence, back weakness, etc.

CAUTION: If you develop numbness or weakness in your lower limbs or incontinence problems, consult your physician immediately.


Treat a facet syndrome with a chiropractor at Chiro Ste-Rose


Chiropractors are trained to manipulate the spine and relieve pressure on the facet joints. 

In addition, they can provide exercises and stretches to help strengthen the muscles around the facet joints and improve the mobility of your joints. 

If you are experiencing the same pain as stated in the article, you may be suffering from facet syndrome. 


The good news is that this condition can be cured with chiropractic care. 


Make an appointment with one of our chiropractors today to get on the road to recovery.

Lumbar facet syndrome
is a common problem !

Our Chiropractic Approach

for torticollis (stiff neck)

severe lumbar sprain

The chiropractor is qualified to diagnose the type of torticollis or neck pain that is afflicting you. An examination of the cervical problem is essential. If it is caused by elements outside the chiropractor's field of practice, he will refer you to the most appropriate specialist for your condition.

Source: Équation PLUS Inc. Et Association Des Chiropraticiens Du Québec

The chiropractic approach aims

to decrease the muscle spasm
Decrease pain and inflammation

The treatment aims to

increase mobility
re-educate the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems


If you experience these symptoms see your chiropractor.