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What is a Facet Joint in the low back?

The Facet Joints of the Spine are small Motion Joints located on the back of the Spine. Their job is to guide and limit the motion of the Spine. Our Spine consists of many "motion segments" which give us our overall mobility. Each "motions segment" consists of a Spinal Disc in the front of the Spine and two Facet Joints on the back of the Spine. Without the Facet Joints, the Spine would move in all directions equally well. However that would be too much motion which would put our Nerve Supply at risk. The Spinal Cord and Spinal Nerves are located within a large tube (Spinal Canal) at the center of the Spine. If Vertebrae could move too much, the Spinal Cord and Nerves would be stretched and twisted which they cannot tolerate. So, this is where the Facet Joints come in. They control the motion of the Spine, only allowing a certain degree which is safe for the rest of the Spine's Anatomy.

Facet Joints in the low back are a common cause of Back Pain. Pioneers in Medicine first discovered the Facet Joints as the primary source of Back Pain and Sciatica. However, eventually, the Spinal Disc received more attention. In recent years, the Facet Joints have been given a higher priority as culprits of low Back Pain. This has lead to new interventions, including new types of Surgeries.