Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain complexities?
Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain are the 2 most common forms of pain in the human anatomy, yet the cause of either can be complex at times due to so many different causes. One of those is often very difficult to diagnose, frequently overlooked, and is therefore labeled as a secret or hidden cause. That hidden cause or secret source of Neck Pain or Lower Back Pain is known as Facet Joint Pain or Facet Syndrome. Facet Joint Pain or Facet Syndrome, is a chronic pain syndrome or condition directly related to pain in the facet joints.

What is a Facet Joint and what is Articulation?
A Facet Joint is a posterior spinal joint that interfaces two adjacent upper and lower vertebrae together. Also known as a Zygapophyseal Joint, the Facet Joint provides for motion known as “Articulation” within defined ranges of motion. The articulation of a Facet Joint includes bending forward: flexion, bending backward: extension, and twisting: Cervical or Thoracolumbar rotation. The joint is stretched and unloaded during flexion and compressed or loaded upon extension. Facet Joints are also joint range limiters to prevent damage to spinal discs from excessive range of motion movements.

What is a Synovial Joint?
Facet joints are Synovial Joints- the most common joint in the human body. A Synovial Joint is characterized by having a joint capsule, joint capsule fluid-synovial fluid to lubricate the inside of the joint, and cartilage on the outside of the joint between the upper and lower adjacent surfaces of each vertebra to allow a smooth gliding movement.

What is Facet Arthritis?
Facet Arthritis or Facet Arthropathy is a degenerative arthritis-facet joint inflammation that can be one of the syndromes of Facet Joint Pain. Both chronic pain conditions can be caused by wear and tear, degeneration of the cartilage surfaces, joint capsule or associated vertebral discs, injury or trauma, incorrect posture-excessive forward head posture, or abnormal spinal curvature such as Hyperlordosis-excessive arch in the lower back.

What Factors affect Facet Joint Movement?
The Facet Joint must be able to move smoothly without restriction. Facet Joint Pain is often experienced when the joint becomes “stuck” or “fixated” in the open or closed position or in the partially open or partially closed position. The Facet Joint Pain dysfunction can cause the muscles surrounding the problem to become hypertonic-extremely tight in order to “splint” or support the problem. Conversely, the musculature that surrounds the joint could have a problem that is causing the joint to become stuck open or closed, resulting in Facet Joint Pain.

What are some causes of Facet Joint Pain?
Some causes of Facet joint pain are: Wear and tear, Degeneration of Cartilage surfaces, Joint Capsule or associated Vertebral Discs, Injury or Trauma, Incorrect posture, Excessive forward head posture, Forward Pelvic Rotation, Abnormal spinal curvature, Hyperlordosis-excessive arch in the lower back, Scoliosis-Lateral Lumbar spinal curvature.

What are the Lower Back Facet Syndrome Symptoms?
Lower back facet joint pain symptoms include lower back pain or tenderness, increased pain upon side bending or twisting or arching the lower back or torso, deep dull aching pain that moves to the buttocks or the back of the thighs, and/or stiffness or difficulty with certain movements, such as standing up straight or getting up out of a chair. The initial onset of pain might be related to a rotational spinal injury or a spinal injury involving hyperextension of the spine.

What are the Neck-Cervical Facet Syndrome Symptoms?
Facet Joint pain neck symptoms include Neck Pain, Headaches, Shoulder Pain, and/or difficulty side bending or rotating the head. Ensure that the Facet Joint Pain Assessment clearly indicates the pain scale for the associated problems. Find out if there is a history of whiplash or any other kind of neck injury.

Is the Facet Joint moving freely, or is movement restricted and if so, how?
That is one of the most important questions that needs to be answered. There is a special test known as the spring test which can test for basic joint movement.

What Exercises will help to relieve my Facet Joint Pain?
If excessive lower back curvature – Lumbar Lordosis, and hypertonic hip flexors and hypertonic lower back musculature is causing compression of the lumbar facet joints, stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce joint compression and help prevent joint fixation will be required to reverse the postural distortion that has occurred. If the cervical (neck) spine is affected by excessive forward head posture and hypertonic neck musculature, there are strengthening and stretching exercises for postural correction and hypertonicity reduction as well. An experienced Soft Tissue Therapist will be able to formulate an effective exercise treatment plan.

Author's Bio: 

Stephen (Steve) Akamine has extensive experience as a specialist in the treatment of Acute and Chronic Myofascial Pain. Steve is one the very few Medical Massage Therapists in Honolulu and the State of Hawaii that conducts a Diagnostic Pain Assessment for Medical Massage Therapy. Steve strives to achieve minimum pain with maximum functionality beyond symptomatic pain relief for each and every one of his clients. “The goal of Medical Massage Therapy at is to resolve Acute and Chronic soft tissue conditions that are related to musculoskeletal pain, lack of range of motion, ischemia (restriction in blood supply), biomechanical (mechanics of movement of living beings) dysfunction, nerve compression or entrapment, or injury or rehabilitation from surgery or some form of pathology (study and diagnosis of disease)”. You can find free tips and information about soft tissue treatment for Chronic Pain at his Chronic Pain Management Resource Center.