One of the Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain (Facet Syndrome)

Jul 21, 2022

Lower back pain is a common chiropractic condition. Like a cold most people will experience low back pain at some point during their lifetime. Stine Chiropractic Clinic, a team of Fredericksburg, VA chiropractors, works with patients to find relief from lower back pain.

A Common Cause of Lower Back Pain

Facet syndrome is the second most common cause of lower back pain with disc being the most common. Symptoms usually manifest as a dull, stiff, achy back. You likely experience these symptoms in the morning after getting out of bed or after sitting or standing for long periods. Although this condition can come on suddenly, it usually develops gradually over time.

Facet Joint and Capsule

Take a look at the diagram. Notice the facet joint and its capsule. The nerve supply going into the capsule and joint is called the dorsal primary ramus nerve. The nerve has a few functions, to recognize the position of the joint and the distention of the capsule surrounding it. Distention is abnormal stretching or lengthening. When the joint approximates and jams pain will be sent to the brain from this nerve. Pain will also be sent to the brain if we are in any position that causes the capsule to stretch beyond its limits. When we sit or stand for too long this is where the term creep deformity can be applied. Creep deformity is simply the stretching of an elastic structure when it is under a constant load causing it to deform or lose some of its elasticity. This damage will heal but may take time and management of the offending motions or positions causing the deformation. Another way the Facet capsule can become damaged is through a process called hysteresis. This is a term used for repetitive loading and unloading of an elastic structure causing the elastic structure to weaken and deform the more we load and unload the structure. An example of this is a repetitive job where the same motions are done over and over again throughout the day.

Another way to injure the facet joint is to repetitively jam the joint. For example, bending backwards the joint gets too close to itself and can jam (much like when you jam a finger). As it does the dorsal primary ramus nerve sends an irritation message to the brain in the form of pain, which then sends a message back, however, this message is sent to the motor part of the nerve causing muscle splinting and spasm to keep the joint from moving. This is what causes the stiffness you experience.

If you trace the nerve back to where it splits this is where the signal flows to the motor segment of the nerve. This signal tells your muscle to go into spasm, which reduces the capsular distention by pulling the joint back together. However, it also causes the joint itself to lock down. This muscle shortening causes the tightness you may feel after standing for too long (jamming) or sitting for too long (stretching capsule).

Facet Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms can range from a slight dull ache to sharp stabbing pain when you move wrong, which usually occurs after prolonged postural positions like sitting or standing too long. When the condition is ignored, the pain can spread to other areas of the body. You may experience pain around the pelvis region to the groin area, deep hip muscle pain, and/or pain down the back of the thigh, but generally not below the knee.

Common Causes of Facet Syndrome

The following is a list of causes that most commonly lead to facet syndrome:

  • Disc degeneration and the aging process
  • Trauma
  • Poor posture
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Sleeping on your side with one knee bent
  • Prolonged activity that requires bending backwards or forwards
  • Sit ups
  • Leg lifts

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Lower Back Pain

Your chiropractor can provide in-office treatment and recommendations for at-home care that will help relieve your lower back pain. Chiropractic treatments include:

  • Electric muscle stimulation, which allows you to get 45 to 60 minutes of pain relief without medication. It also allows the doctor to move you around with less pain, making manipulation more effective.
  • Ultrasound uses deep heat to effectively loosen up the muscles and ligaments, as well as stimulates their healing.
  • Spinal manipulation and manual traction restores normal joint function. Normal joint function is lost when the sensory nerve irritation causes muscle tightness and spasm hindering your joints from moving freely.

Chiropractic is effective because it treats the problem at its source, which is joint dysfunction. This allows all other cascading symptoms to resolve on their own. Although symptoms of pain improve significantly early on, be patient. Your ligaments are slow to heal, because they need adequate time to regain their tensile strength and normal elasticity.

If you are suffering with lower back pain, take a moment out of your day and give our Fredericksburg chiropractic office a call at 540-898-4100 or book an appointment.

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