What is Cervical Facet Syndrome?

The cervical spine (neck) begins at the base of the skull and is made up of seven vertebrae (spinal bones) labelled C1-7 that connect to the thoracic spine (upper back). Cervical facet syndrome is the term used to describe degenerative arthritis of the facet joints (the small joints located between each vertebra) within the neck. It is characterised by joint irritation, inflammation, pain and stiffness and may be associated with pain that is worse in the morning, pain that radiates into the shoulders, headaches and migraines or altered spinal curvature in more severe cases.

Cervical facet syndrome is typically associated with aging as a result of years of wear and tear. As people age, the facet joints and discs wear out and degenerate, causing changes in the spine that interfere with the normal structure and function. However, these changes may occur as a result of injury, like those from lifting or carrying heavy loads, or performing over the head motions that keep the neck and head in an extended position. Muscle weakness and poor posture are also large contributors to the cause of Cervical Facet Syndrome. Other causes may include repetitive trauma or overuse.

Patients may experience dull, achy and continual pain located at the back of the head (nape area). The intensity of the pain can vary throughout the day from moderate to severe and could come on depending on the neck movement induced. Neck stiffness and reduced neck range of motion are also common features.

Does this sound like a condition you are suffering from? We offer services that can aid in your recovery!

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Gellhorn, A.C., J.N. Katz, and P. Suri, Osteoarthritis of the spine: The facet joints. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 2013. 9(4): p. 216-224.

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