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Facet Joint Pain

The facet joints are the joint structures that connect the vertebrae ( spinal segments) to one another in the neck, mid back and lower back. Injury to the facet joints through trauma or excessive movement can cause hypomobility   (lack of neck movement). Other causes of facet joint problems can be caused by fracture, dislocation,  overstretched ligaments or arthritis. Simple movements such as a mild twist, awkward movement or just doing something your body didn`t expect( such as tripping) can lock a facet joint and cause pain. In most cases this is due to your facet joint movement exceeding your muscle control.

Symptoms of a Locked Facet Joint

Pain is one of the first symptoms you will notice with a facet joint injury. A neck facet joint will cause neck pain and potentially shoulder or upper arm pain. A back facet joint injury will cause low back pain and potentially pain referred down your buttock or thigh. You may also experience muscle spasm, decreased movement or difficulty stretching.


The most accurate diagnosis of a facet joint is via a hands on examination from your physiotherapist. The specific facet joint problem will be confirmed and whether it is locked, stiff or unstable.

Physiotherapy Treatment

Treatment for a locked facet joint is relatively simple. A locked facet joint can be unlocked using a painless joint releasing technique. The next step is to  regain full movement and commence strengthening exercises. Your physiotherapist will guide you through a muscle control and stabilisation program.

Contact us for further advice and information.