Right side L5 - S1 Facet Joint Arthritis ( Bone Scan Study ) Nov 2011

by Nando Campana
(Melb, Vic, Australia)

Dear Chiropractic Help,

My name is Nando Campana from Melbourne Australia, thankyou for your website and newsletter I find them to be most helpful.

3 years ago I hurt my back turning to the left to get the road map whislt I was sitting in a car. I felt pain in my lower back right side but was able to continue working.

It was very sore for the next few days and settled a bit but the pain has never gone away and still hurts. It has since become chronic and the following treatment have not helped.

Chiro ( not sure how good he was )

It also led to time off work and reduced hours for 6 months ( i am back to my usual 30 hours per week now ). It also led to depression for the last 15 months, I am currently coming off my medication ( endep ) slowly.

I went to see a rheumatologist who organised the above scan and she suggested a facet joint injection ( cortizone and anaesthetic )which i declined to have as I wanted to know if there was any other way of helping reduce or get rid of the pain.

I would be most grateful for any thing you could suggest , if i have to have the facet joint injection i will but am reluctant to do so.

Many thanks and appreciation

Yours sincerely

Hello Nando,
There's nothing unusual in facet joint arthritis per se. It's common.
What's not uncommon either unfortunately is the chronic nature of the condition.
First off, a couple questions. Any pain in the leg? Secondly, did you/do you have pain bending forwards or backwards?
Thirdly go to Slump Test and let me know what the result is.
Fourthly, are you doing any exercises. Faithfully, every single day? I would strongly recommend our Lower Back Exercises page. Read it carefully and thoroughly, digest it, find the exercises that suit you and do them faithfully EVERY morning before getting out of bed. Take it slowly, you're not training for the Olympics!

You've followed the general guidelines rather well, move from one form of treatment to another, the conservative first. No problem there. How about shopping around, talk to friends and family, colleagues and find another chiro. Take your X-rays and scans.
Let me know how you get on.
Dr B

Comments for Right side L5 - S1 Facet Joint Arthritis ( Bone Scan Study ) Nov 2011

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 01, 2012
by: Anonymous

Hi Dr B,

Thankyou for your reply it is much appreciate.

In answer to your questions

I am 47 yo

No leg pain

No pain bending forward or backwards

Cervical Slump test is negative, i have had it done a few times by various practitioners


I started doing your facet joint exercises about a week ago morning and night.

I also attend once per week water exercises in a 35 degrees hot hydrotherapy pool.

I also go to the gym twice per week and do a exercise program consisting of a warm up, then some multijoint exercies and stretching this takes about 50 minutes.

I also walk or ride my bike to work which is 2km from home.


The pain comes and goes and there are times when I have no pain at all.

I can usully sleep the whole night but 1-2 nights per week I have to take some pain medication at night as the pain stops me sleeping.

I also have pain even when I am resting, which gets worse with the following

I sit for too long ( 30 minutes or so ) especially in the car or a bad chair.

When I do physical work such as gardening, heavy cleaning, lifting etc.

Also when i walk sometimes I get pain in my lower back right hand side a few minutes into my walk and sometimes no pain at all for 30 minutes?

I will have a look around for another Chiropractor and see if I can get some help with the pain and I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question.

All of this is very encouraging, Nando, and certainly suggests that it's very treatable with the right chiropractic approach.
Be sure to tell the new chiro, as accurately as you can, be specific, what treatment didn't help before. If s/he simply repeats that, it will probably fail again. A different approach is needed, and there are many in chiropractic.

Good luck.
Dr B

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Chiropractic help Questions (General).

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs 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. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

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?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

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.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

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.