Lumbar Facet Joint Arthritis

Facet joints are small joints which connect the vertebrae (spinal bones) together and allow movements of the back. These small facet joints also have cartilage same as seen in other joints. When due to any reason there is any inflammation or degenerative changes in the facet joint or cartilage it causes facet joint arthritis. Low back pain due to facet joint arthritis is the main symptom. Commonly facet joint suffers from osteoarthritis which causes severe low back pain and restricts the movement of the back (forward bending and backward movement and sideways movements).


  • Damage in the cartilage of the facet joint
  • Any trauma or injury to the back or spine
  • Heavyweight puts extra pressure on the back or on the spinal bones and joints
  • Repetitive back movements
  • Wrong posture
  • Other spinal conditions like slipping of vertebrae
  • Vertebra disc deterioration also causes changes in the facet joint


  • Low back pain
  • Restricted back movements
  • Pain increases with backward bending and twisting movement of the back
  • Stiffness on the back especially in the morning
  • Long-standing and changing in the position can also increase the pain


  • Physical examinations and patient history
  • X-ray of the lumbar spine or backbone will show the bony changes
  • CT scan and MRI may also be prescribed for specific diagnosis
  • Injection to the facet joint to confirm the cause of pain. This injection is of local anesthesia and corticosteroid


  • Conservative:
      • Physiotherapy exercises like stretching for thigh muscles especially back thigh muscles
      • Manipulation therapy for the back and spine will also help in relieving pain
      • Hydrotherapy or water therapy is also very helpful
      • Medication to relieve pain and inflammation as prescribed by the doctor
      Regenerative Medicine
  • Surgery
    • Surgery is generally not recommended in this case. but if there is a need then joint fusion surgery is performed, multiple facets joint fusion is not advisable.
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