Wellness Osteo

Wellness Osteo

At Wellness Osteo, we are osteopaths who focus on achieving optimal health and wellness, which means treating you and sharing our expertise with you. Read on for the ins and outs of osteopathy.


Lumbar Facet Sprain

Lumbar Facet Injury

Low back injuries are extremely common and treated extensively here at Wellness Osteo.
At least 80% of people will have some sort of back pain in their lifetime. Disc injuries seem to be common knowledge but a more common low back injury is a facet sprain. 


What is a Spinal Facet?

The facet joints, (or zygapophysial joints) are a set of small joints between the articular processes (on the outside of your spinal vertebrae). There are two facet joints in between each vertebrae. These facets joints are located through all of your neck, middle and lower back.
The function of each pair of facet joints is to guide and limit movement of the spinal segment. For example, they help prevent excessive low back rotation (twisting) and flexion (bending forward), they play a role in shock absorption and stabilize the spine.
A facet joint sprain can be defined as an irritation, dysfunction, rotation or compression at the specific spinal joint that connects one vertebra to another, either above or below.


What causes facet sprains?

Acute facet sprains occur the same way as rolling your ankle. In an ankle sprain it can be caused by trauma and hypermobility where the ligaments surrounding the ankle get stretched and the joint itself can be damaged from too much movement. In an ankle sprain it is rolling over the foot, in a facet sprain it is excessive rotation (twisting) and extension (leaning back) that cause sprains.  
Alternatively, Chronic facet sprains can occur from hypomobility, lack of movement or prolonged static posture, whether it be sitting or standing. This causes the area around the joint to become weak and therefore susceptible to micro-traumas (small repetitive sprains). 

Commonly lower back sprains can be from activities such as shoveling, incorrect lifting and/or moving techniques and prolonged sitting.
Common neck sprains can be from sleeping in unusual positions, associated with long periods of sitting at a desk without changing position

Facet sprain Symptoms

  • Strong pain that can go across the spine or be focal on one side of the spine.
  • Pain can occasionally refer elsewhere, for example headaches can result from a neck facet sprain, or glute pain can result from a low back sprain.
  • Morning stiffness
  • Decreased movement
  • Pain on extension (leaning back), rotation and sidebending (twisting).
  • Muscle spasm and residual pain and stiffness. 


Treatment and management of facet sprains

Facet sprains are a very common condition we see at Wellness Osteo, where treatment can include:
– Deep tissue massage – Spinal manipulation – Stretching – Muscle energy techniques – Articulation – Dry Needling – Education to keep moving – Individual specific exercise rehabilitation programs 


Prognosis of facet sprains  (how long does it take to heal)

Minor sprains often settle in 3-4 days with appropriate treatment. But stiffness and pain can linger for 3 or more weeks. 

Hip, Glute and core stability exercises are very important as they will lower your risk of this injury reoccurring.