Out of all low back pain cases we see, this one is the most common. Whereas pain due to irritation of the disc is typically caused by repetitive forward flexion, low back pain can also be caused by too much movement in the opposite direction. The facet joints in the low back are motion-restricting joints, they help provide stability and prevent excessive movement in different directions. When there is too much extension backward, these joints become irritated and inflamed and a condition known as facet syndrome develops. It is often seen in individuals with a sway back posture (overarching at the low back) and jobs or sports that require a lot of overhead activity.

An important thing to look at when dealing with facet syndrome is movement at the hips. The hips and low back move in a coordinated fashion. When the low back extends backward the hips are also going into extension and when flexing forward the hips flex as well. With facet syndrome, if there is a lack of hip extension the low back compensates by hyperextending. Over time, this will irritate the facet joints and cause low back pain.

Addressing joint restrictions in the spine, hip mobility issues, and any muscular adhesions found with manipulation, soft tissue techniques, and home exercises will help resolve the pain both in the short and long term.

Ryan Donahue

Ryan Donahue


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