How Does the Facet Joint Affect My Neck?
If you have neck pain after doing a lot of strenuous activity or exercise, or even from sitting in the same position (such as looking down to read an ebook or play games on your phone for hours on end), then the issue more than likely lies in your facet joint. The facet joint plays a very important role in how your neck and spine function, but pain can occur due to overuse or the onset of osteoarthritis. The key lies in understanding exactly what the facet joint is and how it works.
Where Is The Facet Joint?
If you look at an x-ray of the spinal column, you may or may not see parts of the facet joint. It all depends on the angle that the x-rays were taken from. The facet joint is actually located at the back, or inside, section of the spinal column – the part that faces towards the inside of your body, not your back. The outer part of the spinal column is made up of vertebrae that have discs in between them. However, they are not perfectly solid. They actually wrap around the spinal column, and those ends are connected by the facet joints. There are two of these facet joints on every vertebra.
What Does the Facet Joint Do?
The human spine is very flexible. It can bend and twist and allows you to move in a number of different ways. Without the facet joints, none of this would be possible. They hold the vertebrae in place, while at the same time, allow for all of the movements. This works, because they aren’t fused completely in one position. There are cartilage and synovial fluid in them, at the parts that connect, that allows for these complex movements.
Why Does the Facet Joint Cause Pain?
Like all of the other joints in the human body, the facet joint can be affected by osteoarthritis. This is a condition where the cartilage and fluid in your joints begin to break down, causing the ends of the bones to rub against one another. Although this occurs quite frequently in the knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders, it can also occur in the facet joints. When this breakdown occurs, you’ll feel pain. This is particularly true in the neck region, which is under a lot of stress and strain.
Why Does Facet Joint Pain Happen In the Neck So Often?
Although you can end up with facet joint pain in your back (since these joints run through the entire length of your spine), it occurs much more often in the neck. There’s a reason for this, that’s best answered with another question: how often do you exercise the muscles in your neck? The normal response there is “not often.” This means that the facet joints in the neck must do the job of keeping your head held high in order to make up for those often weakened muscles. As a result, it’s more prone to osteoarthritis, leading to neck pain.