(Keywords: Lumbar facet syndrome, lower back and leg pain, leg length inequality, help for sciatica pain, Chiropractic Help)
There are many terms in common usage relating to low back pain. However this syndrome is not one of them. We are all familiar with terms like slipped disk and sacroiliac joint sprain ... However, it is even more likely that your back pain is coming from small joints in your lower back called facet joints.
The spine is really just a very tall column that gives structure to the whole body. Attached to it are the limbs, all the organs and, of course, it has a very heavy weight placed precariously at the top. Your skull! Yes, you’re very top-heavy.
To prevent the spine from toppling over, or buckling and twisting too much, each spinal bone (called a vertebra) has two boney plates that extend backwards from the spine, and interlock in an ingenious manner with its neighbours above and below. A regular Chinese puzzle.
These bony plates, or facets, form joints all the way, top to bottom, in the spine, giving your flexibility, but with strength.
Obviously a short leg means that this tall column stands on an unlevel foundation. There is much research revealing how a Leg Length Inequality (as it's called) can cause scoliosis, back pain and arthritis. Take a little detour down this lane, meantime I'll be preparing more information about facets for you. Hit the backspace button to return to Chiropractic-Help.com after reading about Leg length inequality ...
The spine also of course contains and surrounds the spinal cord which, together with the brain, is the most sensitive structure in the body. It lies within the spinal canal. Too much torsion or bending would stretch the cord excessively, thus damaging it. It is the facet joints that limit how far you can twist and turn.
What does a facet look like?
those with an engineering bent, it is interesting to note that the
facets in the neck, midback, and low back lie in quite different planes
and at different angles, to give more or less motion as is required. But
movement with stability.
These facets were not designed by our Creator for weight bearing -
that is the prime function of the disc - but slack belly muscles,
obesity and pregnancy cause an increased curve in the low back. This
curve, seen from the side, is quite normal, and is called the lordosis.
When it is increased we call it a hyper-lordosis, or exaggerated
An exaggerated lordosis places extra weight on the facets, and ultimately the hyaline cartilage begins to degenerate. Changes in the shape and condition of the bone may then occur, and cysts may form, threatening the nerves running down the leg.
The joint cartilage has no direct blood supply of its own, relying on diffusion of nutrients and wastes via fluids that bathe the cartilage.
Interesting research now proves that refreshment of these fluids is dependent on movement within the joint or, conversely, that joint fixation and stagnation of these fluids leads within 13 hours to the beginnings of cartilage degeneration.
For more about this Immobilisation Arthritis, the result of an unattended lumbar facet syndrome, check out the Chiropractic subluxation page below.
Developmental Hip Dysplasia is a condition that may develop from an unusual presentation of the foetus in the womb. The hip socket is too small. If it occurs bilaterally, then an increased lumbar lordosis occurs. Hip and groin pain, a very mobile clicking hip, and increased lumbar lordosis? Think of hip dysplasia. Normally it should be detected by the paediatrician at birth, and treated with a Pavlik harness simple and effective.
Falls and other injuries also can injure the joint cartilage, causing the lumbar facet syndrome. The most common injury that we see in the practice, is hyper-extension of the lumbar spine. Just take a look at this girl's lower back ...can you see the pain on her face as the facet joints are ground violently into each other?
Whilst sometimes it
may seem too dangerous to get out of bed in the morning, remember that
most people die in bed! Life is for living, even if it leaves its scars.
Sometimes the facets in a lumbar facet syndrome may wear to such an extent that it allows the vertebra above to slide forwards on that below. These facets are lined with a very hard and, when healthy, glistening white "hyaline cartilage". This cartilage has no blood supply and is totally dependent on certain physiological factors (like movement) for its continued health and ability to restore itself.
alternative is degenerative arthritis, stiffness and pain. Read more
HYALINE CARTILAGE ...
Now the spondylo threatens not only the nerve roots but also the cord. A
stable spondylolysthesis does not usually cause much pain, but it can
cause much grief, particularly when associated with obesity. See how L4
has slid forward on L5? That's what we call a
protruberant gut too increases the lumbar lordosis, putting more pressure
on the facets. The result? More wear and tear, the greater the
likelihood of a nerve entrapment syndrome to go with your lumbar facet
syndrome.Think about our EasIER weight loss program . Treat any "easy" weight loss program with suspicion. For more info,
click here: FREE WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS ...
Notice how this girl's jaw has also taken a blow. This will cause a clicking and popping jaw joint which eventually will lead to severe facial pain and headache . For more information, click here: TMJ anatomy ...
Tingling in feet and legs ...
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The lumbar facets, because of their proximity to the foramen where
the spinal nerve exits, can cause pain and tingling in the legs and
feet. So too can Spondylolysthesis, disc injuries, piriformis syndrome and a host of others ...
Read more about tingling in feet and legs …
What does your chiropractor have to offer for such a lumbar facet syndrome injury? After such an sharp blow these joints will rapidly swell, just like a sprained ankle, but deep within your body so it's not visible. Pain, stiffness and sometimes pain down the leg. Whilst no one suggests rushing off to your friendly chiropractor every time you have a lumbar facet syndrome, an acute injury like this is best attended to immediately.
The treatment is likely to involve ice, gentle exercises and mobilisation of the joints, vital if fixation and arthritis are not to form. S/he may also use traction and a number of other modalities.
As in ALL treatment there is a certain amount of
risk involved. For more information about Iatrogenic Illness, or
click here: IATROGENIC ILLNESS ...
Rehabilitation is vital once the symptoms of lumbar facet syndrome have subsided. If you have not yet signed up for our Chiropractic Tips - fill in your email address at the top left of this page and click on Subscribe - and you will get some simple exercises for the lumbar facet syndrome.The following exercises too are particularly useful for the small Multifidi muscles, considered essential for low back stability.
LOWER BACK EXERCISES
It still has be proved that a lumbar facet syndrome can cause nerve pressure, interfering with organ, such as the ovaries, function.
Remember too that the problem can lie with the male: a low sperm count. Recent reseach done in the Netherlands found that male fertility was reduced by a massive five times if he was using two more deodorants, after-shave lotions etc.
Every chiropractor can regale you with stories of how he or she has got a patient pregnant. For more about infertility and chiropractic, Infertility Chiropractic ...
Read about Connie who it seems has more faith in chiropractic than
her chiropractor! After twenty years of chronic low back pain she has
stuck it out, and is now enjoying the fruit of her tenacity and
determination to get better. Updated regularly.
Read more … INSPIRATIONAL STORIES ...
Degenerative joint disease can also be called "arthritis". It is arthritis. Often then there is the assumption that there's nothing to be done. Consider for example this degenerative lumbar disc disease casefile in which an elderly lady has had two total hip replacements and three extremely degenerate lumbar discs.
She could no longer walk and was told: you have arthritis, unfortunately you just have to learn to live with the pain and disability. Nothing, in her cause could be further from the truth... this is her X-ray:
She responded astonishingly well to gentle Chiropractic Help ...
Because of the increased natural curve in the lumbar spine (called a "lordosis" during pregnancy, there is more pressure on the facet joints. Whilst this usually causes just pain in the lower back, radiating pain down the sciatic nerve is not that uncommon either in pregnancy.
It makes a lot of sense as soon as you know you are pregnant to start these very simple basic exercises every morning before getting out of bed.
I receive many questions about Chiropractic. It might be help with a spinal condition, but it might also be from a person who can't walk after a hip operation, or some such thing.
I will do that by answering your questions personally, but it will be converted to a Web Page so others can benefit from your questions. Omit your name if you like.
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There is no charge for this service, however if you find my answer useful, you might like to consider purchasing my latest book, Stones in my Clog. Gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a Chiropractor. It's only $2.99. http://www.bernard-preston.com/Stones-in-my-Clog.html
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Do understand that lower back pain is extremely complex, so I can only give general guidelines. There's no substitute for a careful thorough chiropractic examination.
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Right lower back pain and anterior leg pain
Right lower back pain and anterior leg pain I have suffered with back problems for about 12 years now (I'm now 49y/o). In the past I have had …
Hey Doc! Thanks for having such an informative website. I'll cut to the chase. I have bad facets, real bad facets. In addition at L5-S1 I have a naturally …
left side low back/upper glute pain
I was squatting a month ago and while i was going through the eccentric phase, my back was in excruciating pain, it hurt right away. I got an MRI and it …
pain in facets
i'm a 18 year old male i damaged my back squatting and it went undiagnosed for 2 years. I'm seeing a chiropractor who does adjustments and he has said …
facet syndrome? or disc herniation?
12 days ago somewhere between taking a shower and washing my hair, something crazy happened to my back. The symptoms I exhibited included major pain in …
Why does lower lumbar click and crick with no pain Not rated yet
Altho I didn't have sciatica per the Slump Test, I am still curious why my lower lumbar back clicks and cricks? I always presumed ones back got stiff …
Pain in the leg Not rated yet
Pain in the leg Dear sir/madame Thank you for giving us this option to share our problems with you! My mother is 72 years old 58 cm tall and 80 kg. …
Clicking of lumbar spine Not rated yet
Clicking of lumbar spine I had a L5-S1 microdiscectomy 1 month ago for a disc prolapse. I had the same surgery done 3 years ago. I am mobilising more …
No doctors take my back pain seriously because I'm "only 29" Not rated yet
No doctors take my back pain seriously because I'm "only 29" Hi there. I had a hyper extension injury to my lower back over 10 years ago performing …
Pains down in my hips lower back and knees and ankles Not rated yet
Pains down in my hips lower back and knees and ankles hi, I am 30 years old women who has lower back ache, also in my hips knees thighs and ankles …
severe pains/pulling sensations deep inside pelvic area (and sacrum?) Not rated yet
severe pains/pulling sensations deep inside pelvic area (and sacrum?) I had a lot of gynecological issues, stemming from bad endometriosis and ending …
My back just kills me everywhere, weak thighs, tingling in feet Not rated yet
My back just kills me everywhere, weak thighs, tingling in feet Hi....can you put this in plain language so it make sense. I am somewhat scared and …
"stories of how he or she has got a patient pregnant" Not rated yet
probably not the best phrasing, helped with the infertility,yes, got a patient pregnant, no. Quite so! It's actually a quote from a patient who …
SI Not rated yet
Dr Lewis, Thank you for all the work you have put into this page, the youtube video supplements on your channel, and for a slight Aussie accent... …
Hip pain and pain around the sacroiliac joint Not rated yet
I have arhritis in my right hip,but recently have had injections by the consultant for torchanteric bursitis. These were unsuccessful and I,m now to …
PAIN IN LEG (THIGH) WHILE WALKING FOR 40 FEET Not rated yet
OBSERVATIONS: * Loss of lumbar lordosis is noted. * No other remarkable vertebral abnormality is seen. * Neural foramina and facet joints are unremarkable. …
New inner knee pains Not rated yet
Recently experiencing inner hamstring tightness. Unable to abduct right leg without pain. Knee pain along inner aspect. Unable to bend knee . H/o of …
JOINT AND MUSCLE PAIN // Lower back and leg pain Not rated yet
JOINT AND MUSCLE PAIN // Lower back and leg pain I had a disectomy on L4/5 in Aug of 2010 - I have about 85% of my leg pain healed but my back pain …
Lower back pain and strange sensation in lower back including side of right thigh and left side sciatica Not rated yet
Hello Dr Lewis , I am 24 years old dental student. I have clicking in between l5 s1 for more than 1&1/2 year. But it never caused any limitation of movement …
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Interesting challenges of the day
1. Mr B came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.
2. Mrs C has a long history of severe, disabling migraine headaches since having her wisdom teeth removed. She clenches her teeth at night. After six treatments she has no migraines but some jaw joint discomfort remains; a bite plate is in the offing.
3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.
4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.
5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.
6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.
And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.
7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.
8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.
9. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.
10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.
11. Mr C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.
12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.
13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.
And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.
Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?
Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.
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You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.
The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.