Relief For Facet Joint Injury And Arthritis Pain

The facet joints are the two joints that are almost never talked about when patients enter a doctor’s office with back pain. Most often the questions go to the spinal discs that are the most common source of problems. However a significant source of back pain can come from facet joint injury or arthritis.

The lower facet joints can cause very severe and often debilitating pain in the lower back. They are most often injured in a couple of ways. With their function as hinges, injury and inflammation of these joints can be quite disturbing. Inflamed Facet Joint

They are injured by trauma that induces whiplash type movement in the lower back. Additionally hard, sudden rotational movements can cause damage to them. Aside from injury, erosive or osteoarthritis can affect these joints very painfully.

To compound all this as we get older injuries can cause light but progressive trauma to these small hinge joints that we have in our back. At every level of our lower back we have one facet joint on each side.

Common complaints about facet joint injury

From all that the most common complaints due to this condition commonly are morning stiffness, then discomfort from long standing. This pain all settles right in the lower back. The pain from standing is most often alleviated by simply sitting down for a while.

How facet joint injury and degeneration is diagnosed:

To determine facet joint injury from pain, the initial exam involves first localized pressing on the joints directly. The patient will lie on their stomach as the doctor presses down with thumbs or fingertips on the facets to see if it causes discomfort.

In addition to that the doctor will have the patient stand and slowly lean back and make slow, rotational movements with their hips. The doctor may also press into the joints while the patient is standing.

While this is not definitive, it does give some strong clues as to how to proceed with further examination.

After the initial exam, imaging studies are the most common next step in the evaluation. First, simple x-rays may give the information needed to see if the joints are injured and what role arthritis may be playing in the joint.

If the facet joint injury may radiate pain down into the leg, more advance imaging such as an MRI may be necessary to rule out further injury elsewhere. This allows doctors to look, not only at the facets but also at the nerves to be sure there is not impingement (the dreaded pinched nerve).

Initial treatment for facet joint pain

Treatment options for facet injury and pain is pretty typical in the initial conservative stage. Anti-inflammatory medications and steroids by mouth or injection are most often initial pain relief solutions.

It’s worthy of noting that steroid injections directly into the facet joint, if it brings decisive relief, it also serves as a good diagnosis factor. The anti inflammatory effects of the steroid working in the joint is a pretty good indicator that the source of pain is right there.

Getting the patient some pain relief from initial medication allows them to enter physical therapy. This helps determine what caused the facet damage to begin with and help achieve anywhere from some to complete restoration of the joint function.

Another sometimes effective if temporary relief technique is decompression of the injured area. This is most often used in response to disc injury, but it sometimes works to relief compression on nerves from facet injury.  It may be done by specific exercise or by medical traction which has come a long way from the bags of sand on a pully from decades past.

This is used to allow the patient to enter or continue functional therapy.

When the facets are significantly inflamed and the injections don’t last long, there is also sometimes the option of cauterizing the nerve to stop the pain in the joint. This is a rather severe type of treatment and is not usually an initial choice.

When the patient goes through functional physical therapy, it is important to gain knowledge about what causes the problem. Then it is necessary for them to continue and/or advance the exercises developed specifically for their strength and function after treatment for facet joint injury.

Ensuring Joint Health And Stability Through Resistance Exercise

What you’ll see in the video below is a demonstration of a full body resistance exercise workout. It is specifically developed for long term joint health and stability. This is a workout you can do now for a short period of time or throughout the rest of your life. It will tone and develop muscle to provide joint support in your shoulders, elbows, wrists/hands, lower back, hips and knees.

The exercises can be used to condition, strengthen, or if you decide to take it to this level, build muscle. That said, they are best suited to strengthening muscle over time, to protect your joints in case of overload. This is one of the best protections against joint deterioration available for anybody healthy enough to commit to them.

Full Body Workout For Joint Support

These resistance exercises done only with items most anybody could have in their home. The equipment used is a single set of fifty pound adjustable dumbbell (maximum 25lbs per hand), and three chairs. That’s it. With just that simple equipment and some commitment, you can take your body to new levels of strength and structural health.

The video moves quickly. You can just look at the joint health exercises, do them a few times and move on. Otherwise they are described below.

In full body workouts, I start at the top and move down. Start with 8 – 12 repetitions, adding sets and reps as you get stronger.

First, the overhead dumbbell presses.

The standard for shoulder strength, if you are working out for shoulder joint support, don’t do these with heavy weights.

Start by standing straight up, arms bent upward, dumbbells at shoulder level. Lift them straight up and back down, repeating for each repetition. Make the movement smooth and from slow to medium speed. You can alternate arms or do both at once.

The purpose of this exercise in this case is to provide safe, dynamic movements with mild pressure on the joints. This mimics many movements you might make any day doing physical work of some kind. It prepares you shoulder joints for stress.

Next is standing dumbbell flyes or lateral raises.

These strengthen the peripheral shoulder muscles without stressing the joint.

Standing straight up, arms to your side, dumbbell in each hand lift the dumbbells straight out to each side. Keep the arms as straight as possible without locking the elbows. Make the moves steady and medium speed.

Dumbbell flyes are a great strengthening and conditioning exercise with minimal joint stress.

Bending dumbbell flyes naturally follow the first two exercises.
CAUTION: Be very careful with your lower back.

These primarily work the rear deltoid working from a bent forward position. Don’t bend as far forward as possible. Keep your back slightly elevated.

Start with your arms down in front of you, dumbbell in each hand. Steadily, at medium speed lift the dumbbells up to shoulder level on each side. Remain in the bent position throughout the exercise.

Dumbbell Curls For Mid Arm Joint Support

Every guy’s favorite exercise is great for both men and women. It won’t give women “man arms”. What it will do is work the bicep, and secondarily, the forearms. This is a working muscle group that is critical to working correctly when lifting.

Begin by standing with arms down to the side, a dumbbell in each hand. Turning the wrist partly outward, keeping the upper arm stationary, lift the dumbbell up toward your shoulder with the forearm only. Lower and reapeat.

You can alternate arms or do both at once.

Forearm curls naturally follow standard curls. Taking the same position as with the prior exercise, this time lift the weight up with the palm turned out away from you.

This strengthens the forearms, wrists and hands. This along with standard curls develop muscles used in all types of lifting, climbing, pulling, etc.

Pushups (Use your imagination)

What can we say about pushups? It is the standard bodyweight upper body exercise for strength and endurance. Pushups can be done in any way you can imagine.

Doing them in different positions works the chest and shoulders from different angles and through various ranges of motion. One of the great conditioning exercises for shoulder, elbow and upper back support.

Here in the video they are done between chairs which gives a great range of motion.

Down the body for hip, lower back and knee support are three exercises.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

These are done from the same basic position as a standard barbell deadlift, except that you don’t let the weights hit the floor. You are getting both the benefit of a deadlift and squat.

This is a great strength exercise for the lower back, legs and hips.

Stiff Leg Deadlifts

Basically you are doing the same thing as the last exercise except you keep your legs straight. This is specifically a lower back strength and conditioning exercise.

Do these carefully by moving slowly and smoothly through the movement.

Finally the exercise guaranteed to make you sore in your legs and buttocks. That is until you do them a few times.

Dumbbell lunges work the legs and hips like no other lower body exercises.

People experienced and currently working out with heavy weights for squats, deadlifts and more can do a couple of sets of lunges and end up sore to the bone. Start out with very light weights doing these.

Don’t let the soreness discourage you. It will lessen and disappears as you work out doing lunges regularly. That deep soreness means they work. Period.

Those exerises will provide a comprehensive, effective and efficient workout for joint health support. You can optionally add some type of pulling movement and some situps, leg raises or crunches to add some enhancement.

In any case these are movements that can help you keep your joints supported and safe throughout your lifetime.