It can be said that nearly every person experiences neck and headache pain at some stage throughout their life.
In many cases irritation of the facet joints of the neck are culprits for this pain.
The facet joints are small joints or hinges that link each vertebrae or bony block of the spine together. They are located on both sides of vertebrae as it intersects with the vertebras directly above it and directly below it. Its role is to provide stability and control of neck movement. Problems arise when these facet joints slip out of correct spinal alignment into a locked position causing painful stretching and irritation of its surrounding joint capsule, which protects and lubricates the joint.
This can occur as a result of trauma to the body such as whiplash from a car accident or indeed a simple fall to the ground. In addition poor posture such as sitting with the head protruding forward creates early degeneration of the facet joints leading joint capsule irritation. It is important to note that facet joint pain can also occur without the facet joints becoming locked out of their correct position. Such an example is when disc height reduces in a person who has protruding head posture causing the facet surfaces to be pressed closer together leading to irritation within the joint capsule.
Signs and symptoms
Headache pain – facet joint dysfunction can refer pain to the top of the head, eye region and to the side of the head
Dull aching shoulder blade
Restricted neck movement
Inflamed and swollen muscles at the back of the neck
Neck pain is aggravated on turning the neck to the side (eg when driving) and when looking upwards (extending the neck backwards).
Dull achy neck Pain and stiffness reappears when the neck is held in a stationary position for long periods such as driving, watching television and sitting using the computer at work.
Treatment and management
When a patient comes to my clinic presenting with neck pain caused by Cervical Facet syndrome, I examine the cervical spine for an abnormal facet position and then proceed to mobilise the facet back into its true position through gentle graded manipulation.
This will have the effect of improving neck movement. Stretching of the surrounding tightened neck muscles is necessary coupled with posture advice on how to avoid holding the neck in a forward protruding position.
This is very important as the cervical spine of the neck will continue to cause pain unless this is corrected.
The implementation of ergonomics in management of the Patients work place posture is vital for the prevention of future neck pain.
Tomás Ryan can be contacted on 0504 26672 or email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org