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Dr. Mark J. Kirk &
Dr. James McNally
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Lumbar Facet Irritation

 

 


Reach behind you and feel the center of your low back, just above the buttocks. This is your lumbar spine. Lumbar facet irritation is a painful condition affecting the joints in this area, called the lumbar facet joints. These are responsible for connecting the vertebrae (individual bones) in the spine, providing the spine with protection, limiting excessive motion and preventing the vertebrae from locking together.

Patients suffering from lumbar facet irritation usually complain of a well-localized low back pain, meaning they can pinpoint the exact site of discomfort. The condition is closely related to lumbar facet syndrome -- however, patients with the latter also feel referred pain in one hip, buttock or upper leg. Facet irritation often precedes facet syndrome, usually if someone hasn't had his or her irritation treated properly.

The onset of lumbar facet irritation is often sudden, occurring after a misjudged movement or while recovering from a bent position. These activities may stretch the joint capsules (which protect and support the joints) or jam the facet joints, causing subluxations (restricted motion or abnormal positioning) in the spine and painful swelling. Other causes include poor posture, everyday wear-and-tear and trauma to the low back.

Symptoms of facet irritation usually get worse when people sleep on their stomach, work with their arms above their head or rise from a sitting position. All these activities expose the joints to stress that they aren't accustomed to, making them more vulnerable to injury and irritation.

Chiropractic care is effective for lumbar facet irritation. Chiropractors perform a procedure called spinal manipulative therapy, also known as an adjustment, which relieves pain and restores function to misaligned or malfunctioning joints.