Bayside Chiropractic

Our Cronulla Chiropractic team are pleased to welcome you to Bayside Chiropractic, our friendly family health and wellness clinic.

0432 520 076
Suite 209, 30 The Kingsway
Cronulla, NSW 2230

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0432 520 076

Suite 209, 30 The Kingsway

Cronulla, NSW 2230

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Facet Joint Syndrome: Anatomy, Causes, and Chiropractic Care

Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet Joint Syndrome: Anatomy, Causes, and Chiropractic Care

This month we’re all about Facet Joint Syndrome – a common condition that affects the joints of the spine. Facet joints, also known as Zygapophyseal (what a mouthful) or Z-joints, play a crucial role in enabling spinal movement and providing stability to the vertebral column. Unfortunately, when these joints become dysfunctional or degenerate, it can lead to pain and limited mobility in the affected area. But fear not – the chiropractors at Bayside Chiropractic are here to provide non-invasive treatments to reduce pain, improve mobility and promote healing. Give us a call on (02) 9523 9940 to make an appointment.


Facet Joint Syndrome

Anatomy of Facet Joints:

Facet joints are paired synovial joints located on the posterior (behind) aspect of the vertebrae. They connect the vertebrae to one another and facilitate various movements of the spine, including forward, backward and side bending, as well as twisting. Each facet joint consists of two articulating surfaces covered with cartilage, allowing smooth movement. A capsule surrounds the joint and is filled with synovial fluid, which provides lubrication and nourishment to the joint tissues. Every individual vertebra possesses two distinct pairs of bony projections that when combined with those of the vertebrae above and below, create the Z-joints. The bony projections that point upwards are known as superior articular processes, and those pointing downwards are termed inferior articular processes. These joint surfaces exhibit sleek, curved, and nearly “yoke-like” structures, facilitating seamless interlocking with the corresponding surfaces of adjacent vertebrae. It’s a beautiful, interlocking puzzle. But why and how do things go wrong?

tingling in the leg. 



Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome:

Facet joint syndrome is primarily caused by the degeneration of the cartilage within the facet joints. This degeneration can be attributed to several factors, including:

Aging:. Over time, the cartilage covering the joint surfaces wears down due to continuous movement and load-bearing, resulting in diminished shock absorption and increased friction. Synovial fluid production tends to decrease, reducing lubrication and therefore intensifying friction. Meanwhile changes in bone density make the joints more susceptible to micro-fractures and stress!

As if that’s not enough, blood supply to the spinal tissues tends to diminish with age, which can result in reduced delivery of essential nutrients to the facet joints. This lack of nutrients impairs the body’s ability to repair and maintain the joint tissues, further promoting degeneration. Chronic inflammation, common as the body ages, affects joint tissues and contributes to cartilage breakdown. Not everyone will suffer in the same way; genetic factors play a part in determining how much you might be affected.  

Repetitive Movements: Activities that involve repetitive spinal movements, such as heavy lifting or twisting, can contribute to facet joint wear and tear. Why? Repetitive movements often involve specific patterns of joint loading. Over time, these repetitive patterns can lead to imbalanced stress distribution across the facet joints. Certain areas of the joints might be subjected to excessive pressure, leading to localised damage and degeneration. Such movement patterns also limit the range of motion and variability within the joints. This reduces synovial fluid circulation, hindering the joint’s ability to maintain health and heal.

Obesity: Excess body weight places additional stress on the facet joints, accelerating their degeneration. Hormones created by adipose tissue (fancy word for ‘fat’) can also increase inflammation in the body, contributing to cartilage breakdown.

Injury: This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth noting that trauma to the spine, such as accidents or sports-related injuries, can damage the facet joints and initiate the degenerative process.



Chiropractic Approach to Facet Joint Syndrome:

Chiropractic care offers a non-surgical and drug-free approach to managing facet joint syndrome. The team at Bayside Chiropractic will focus on restoring your proper alignment and mobility of your spine, which can alleviate pain and improve overall spinal function. Here’s just a few of the ways we might be able to help:

Spinal Adjustment: Chiropractors use manual spinal adjustments to gently manipulate the vertebrae and restore proper alignment of the facet joints. This can help reduce pressure on the affected joints and improve joint function. And just by restoring mobility, synovial fluid gets to move again, bringing more mobility and healing. It’s a virtuous cycle!

Soft Tissue Techniques: We might also use soft tissue techniques, such as massage and stretching, to relieve muscle tension and improve blood flow to the affected area. This can aid in reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

Posture and Ergonomic Guidance: Chiropractors often provide guidance on maintaining proper posture and ergonomics, both during daily activities and at work. This helps reduce stress on the facet joints and prevents further degeneration.

Exercises and Rehabilitation: Chiropractors may prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine. Strengthening these muscles can provide better support to the facet joints and help prevent future flare-ups.

Lifestyle Recommendations: Chiropractors often provide advice on lifestyle modifications, including weight management and activity modification, to minimise stress on the facet joints and promote overall spinal health. While some degeneration of your facet joints might be unavoidable there’s A LOT you can do to minimise the damage, the pain and its impacts on your life.



So, now that you know a little more about the condition why not take action and do something about it! Give us a call on (02) 9523 9940 to make an appointment with the team at Bayside Chiropractic. We hope you found this information useful. If you like learning about anatomy and health, why not follow us on social media. You can find us on Facebook for more helpful information.


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