Facet joint syndrome symptoms can range from a dull ache to chronic pain that makes it difficult to complete tasks of daily living. The arthritic changes in the facets can compress and aggravate the nerves that exit near them, resulting in nerve damage that leads to the following:
The stiffness and pain felt by people who have this form of arthritis can make standing up straight or getting out of a chair difficult, in addition to any kind of twisting motion, as a decline in a person’s flexibility is quite common. An individual may have trouble walking upright and end up hunched over.
A majority of facet syndrome symptoms are felt in the lumbar region (lower back) due to its having to take on the added force of the whole upper body. People with degenerated joints in the low back may — in addition to the symptoms listed above — specifically experience facet syndrome as a dull ache in the low back directly over the spine that can refer to the buttocks and back of thighs.
In addition, if the neck area, or cervical spine, has the degenerative changes associated with facet syndrome, specific symptoms may include:
Because the thoracic spine, or rib area, between the cervical and lumbar spine, is more rigid and not called on for as much movement as the neck and low back, its facet joints are not prone to as much damage as the others’, although some individuals may experience:
Positions that take the weight off the damaged facet joint, such as sitting or leaning forward, may ease pain.
Reviewed by: Galal Elsayed, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: September 2023