joint disorders are some of the most common of all the
recurrent, disabling low back and neck problems, and can
cause serious symptoms and disability for patients.
However, facet joint problems rarely involve the spinal
Back Conditions that
may be Confused with Facet Joint Problems
Interestingly, when the acute lumbar or cervical facet
joint inflammation is at its peak, the symptoms may
closely imitate those of a herniated disc, a deep
infection, a fracture or a torn muscle of the spine, or
in the low back, sometimes an acute intra-abdominal
problem. Clearly, such episodes can be very disabling
On the other hand, serious problems in the abdomen may
mimic lumbar facet joint problems and deep anterior neck
problems may imitate cervical facet disorders, so a good
differential diagnosis must rule out such things.
arthritis as a source of facet degeneration and pain can
also be involved and this possibility should be
To break up a cycle of recurring, acute facet joint
pain, a number of treatments can be used successfully.
Many of these treatments give some or even a lot of
temporary relief but all too often, little long-term
There are a number of conservative care treatment
options that can be tried to alleviate the pain and
rehabilitate the back, such as:
Successful long-term treatment involves proper
exercises, with instruction by a trained physical
therapist or other healthcare provider.
• Good posture (maintaining a normal curvature of the
spine such as pulling the car seat quite forward or when
standing at a sink, putting one foot up on a ledge,
bending that knee a bit), support to the low back when
seated or riding in a car (particularly in the acute
phase). A very useful posture when standing or sitting
is the pelvic tilt - where one pinches together the
buttocks and rotates forward the lower pelvis - and
holding that position for several seconds, done several
times per day.