The facet joint, also called the zygapophysial joint, is often involved in an automobile accident or work injury. Facet joints are the articulating or moving connections between the vertebrae in our spine. Facet joint pain is generally localized to the affected area, whether in the neck (cervical spine) or the low back (lumbar spine). The pain does not radiate down the arm or leg because a nerve root is not directly involved. Of course, facet joint degeneration or arthritis can advance to where it implicates a nerve root and radicular pain would ensue.
The human spine is made up of 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to create the spinal column. The spinal column gives the body its form. It is the body’s main upright support.
The back portion of the spinal column forms a bony ring. When the vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, these bony rings create a hollow tube. This tube, called the spinal canal, surrounds the spinal cord as it passes through the spine. Just as the skull protects the brain, the bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord.
Between the vertebrae of each spinal segment are two facet joints. The facet joints are located on the back of the spinal column. There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae, one on each side of the spine. A facet joint is made of small, bony knobs that line up along the back of the spine. Where these knobs meet, they form a joint that connects the two vertebrae. The alignment of the facet joints of the lumbar spine allows freedom of movement as you bend forward and back.
The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is a smooth, rubbery material that covers the ends of most joints. It allows the bone ends to move against each other smoothly, without friction.
Normally, the facet joints fit together snugly and glide smoothly, without pressure. If pressure builds where the joint meets, the cartilage on the joint surfaces wears off, or erodes.
Facet joints can also become damaged due to a neck or back injury in an automobile collision or an injury at work. Fractures, torn ligaments, and disc problems can all cause abnormal movement and alignment, putting extra stress on the surfaces of the facet joints.
McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin conduct with care, thorough reviews of the medical records to discern the cause of auto collision whiplash or a lifting work injury facet joint disease. An honest opinion from a trusted medical doctor or surgeon is the best evidence of causation. Believe in better.