Our facet joints are movable links between our spinal vertebrae. The facet joints in our spines contain cartilage that allows them to bend and twist, giving us flexibility and allowing for normal body movements. Between each vertebrae there are two joints – one facing upward and the other facing downward. The facet joints are, in a healthy spine, covered with smooth ligaments and fluids allowing the joints to move smoothly over each other.
Facet Joint Pain, also known as Facet Joint Syndrome and Facet Arthropathy, occurs when the facet joints are no longer moving smoothly, either as a result of injury or degeneration. The resulting changes in your spine can shift the weight of your body unevenly on the facet joints and cause loss of mobility and irritation. These joints can also send pain signals to your brain by irritating the medial branch sensory nerves, which can also result in the surrounding muscles stiffening and spasming.
In short, injury and degeneration cause the natural movement of these joints to break down, and the resulting inflammation, nerve irritation, and uneven pressure can cause intense pain and a significant decrease in your quality of life.