Have you heard about joint facet syndrome? For most of us, this seems to be a new term. However, this may already be affecting our health and work performance. It’s time to be aware of this health condition and how proper ergonomics can help prevent it.
First, what are facets?
According to Healthline.com, there are also joints in our spine, aside from the jaw, elbow, knee, and hip.
“The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are separated by disks. Each vertebra has two sets of facet joints. These are synovial joints located on either side of the posterior process of the vertebral bodies. Facet joints link the vertebral bodies together, providing stability, support, and mobility to the spine. These joints allow the spine to perform forward flexion, extension, and twisting motions. Like any other joint, the facet joints have cartilage, which can become worn and thin, preventing normal motion of the spine.”
Over time, the cartilage in the facet joints can degenerate or wear down. It becomes thinner and prone to breakage. Common names given to the pattern of degenerating of facet joints include face arthritis, facet hypertrophy, facet disease, degenerative facet joints, and facet joint syndrome.
What is Joint Facet Syndrome?
Facet joint syndrome is similar to arthritis and can often cause neck pain and back pain.
What causes this? Experts reveal that it is caused by some degenerative changes to the joints found in between the spine bones. The inflammation and breaking of the cartilage within the facet joint trigger the pain. People experiencing facet joint syndrome have difficulty standing from getting up from a chair or standing up straight. It can also affect someone’s flexibility. Worse, this condition can lead someone to have an issue walking upright or become hunched.
Some risk factors of joint facet syndrome include obesity, aging, trauma from injury, smoking, genetics, poor posture, weak immune system, and improper lifting and pushing.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Joint Facet Syndrome
The symptoms of facet joint syndrome can include mild to chronic pain, causing difficulty completing your daily tasks. The arthritic development in the facets can compress and force the nerves near them, resulting in nerve damage that leads to the following:
- Burning pain of the nerves
- Lack of mobility
- Spasms of the muscles
- Pricking sensations
- Weakness of the muscles
- Radiating pain due to joint damage
Most joint facet syndrome symptoms are felt in the lumbar region or lower back. The pain and discomfort can spread on the back of the thighs and even over the spine.
Furthermore, when joint facet syndrome is related to the degenerative issues in the cervical spine and neck area, the following symptoms may be observed:
- Pain when leaning backward
- Pain on the middle back
- Morning stiffness
- Having a hard time moving the head
- Reduced range of movements
Larry Parker, MD, from Spine-Health.com mentioned in an article:
“Lumbar facet joint disorders most commonly cause lower back pain that is characterized by a localized ache with some degree of stiffness. This pain is usually worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. In the case of spinal nerve root impingement, radicular leg pain (sciatica) may occur.”
Furthermore, the article also listed other symptoms of lumbar facet joint disorders, including tenderness on palpitation, stiffness in the joints, poor posture, radiating pain, referred pain, localized pain, and crepitus (feeling of grinding of joints when moving).
Prevent Joint Facet Syndrome with the Help of Proper Ergonomics
Joint facet syndrome can be diagnosed by doing diagnostic tests like CT scan, bone scan, MRI scan, and X-Ray. On the other hand, treatments and prevention can be done with the help of therapeutic massage, hot and cold therapy, decompression, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, lifestyle change, and proper ergonomics.
As mentioned, poor posture can be a risk factor for joint facet syndrome. Prolonged sitting can absolutely impact the effects of this condition. Here are some ergonomic tips that you can try
#1 Always work and perform activities with proper posture
When sitting or standing, make sure to be always in your best posture. Avoid slouching or bending too much when working on your desk. When reaching for something, bend with your knees and not with your waist. Make sure to know as well the proper sleeping postures, so you will feel good upon waking up.
#2 Use standing desk or desk converters
Standing desks and desk converters are excellent devices and equipment to alleviate the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Various articles and studies have already revealed the dangers of prolonged sitting. It is actually referred to as the ‘new smoking’ because its effects can put someone’s life at risk. The more inactive or sedentary you become, the more prone you are to having musculoskeletal diseases and posture-related problems.
#3 Take a break from long hours of work or activities
Being hardworking can pay off; however, if it’s overworking, it can lead to dangers as well. Long hours of work can cause fatigue and muscle pain. That is why it is recommended to take regular breaks when you’re working. It will help you rest your muscles and bones. Also, it can help refresh your mind from overwhelming work assignments. A five to ten minutes of walking or standing can be a big help, especially if your work fully requires you to be seated for several hours.
#4 Make sure to apply ergonomic lifestyle tips
Your lifestyle is a great contributor to your overall health. The way you spend time on your daily tasks can have either positive or negative effects. For instance, wearing the right eye correction to prevent eye strain and headaches should be considered. Keep your fingers warm when using them; use gloves when needed. Relax your muscles by shifting positions from time to time. Use equipment and other tools to avoid overusing your muscles and bones.
#5 Have a regular checkup.
The best way to do if there is something wrong with our health is to have a regular checkup. Do not wait for you to feel something painful and allow it to get worse before seeking treatment. Better to prevent it before the damage becomes bigger.
Joint facet syndrome is one of the many health conditions that should be given proper attention. When you feel that you are at risk or already experiencing its symptoms, make sure to consult an expert and follow the ergonomic tips mentioned above. Always remember that protecting your health should always be your priority if you want to be successful in all aspects of life.