If you have neck pain, the most likely injury you may have is a facet joint sprain, also called Facet Joint Syndrome.
You can, of course, have another reason for your pain, which is why a thorough understanding and knowledge is important in order to accurately diagnose and treat your problem. That is why Chiropractors have between 4 and 5 years training to specialise in muscle and joint problems.
The facet joints connect each vertebra of the spine with the next and if one of the joints becomes injured, then inflammation and pain is often the result. You will get muscle spasm as a result and sometimes it feels just as if you have a muscle spasm.
You will be more susceptible to this type of injury if some joints are stiff and as a result of that others become over-mobile and more easily injured. The spine is like a chain with many flexible links and if one is stiff then another moves more to compensate. An over-flexible joint is more likely to get injured.
Many things can cause this condition; most commonly repeated minor trauma through moving and lifting, sometimes doing things that you have done hundreds of time before without feeling pain, but this time, it caused you pain.
It is obviously more likely if you move badly, have bad posture, too much physical activity, lifting something heavy or even just turning to reach for something.
The injury is a sprain but stress can sometimes precipitate these injuries, but fundamentally it has to do with movement, moving awkwardly, sitting badly, falling asleep whilst sitting, for example. Sometimes direct trauma from falls and injuries such as whiplash can also be a trigger.
Make an appointment with your chiropractor as soon as possible to have the problem properly diagnosed. Once the diagnosis is made the appropriate treatment can be given.
The initial treatment involves avoiding the movements that cause the joints to be painful, but prolonged rest is not advisable.
Chiropractic treatment would normally involve early manipulation to release the muscle spasm. The manipulation is not done to the injured joint and the most appropriate treatment method will be chosen to avoid aggravating the problem, so don’t expect the treatment to be painful.
The chiropractor will also give advice on how to get comfortable, how to move, and taught which exercises to do to get comfortable and help you to get on with your life as comfortable as possible.
Once the pain has subsided core muscle exercises will gradually be introduced to create better spinal control and stability, which is one way of preventing the injury from coming back.
You will also be giving postural and ergonomic advice to help you reduce the risk of injury.
In a more chronic (long-standing) type of facet joint problem, the management would most likely be over a longer period.
In our clinics, we often hear from patients that they find painkillers ineffective. If you decide to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs, which is an option if your pain is severe you need to be aware of the possible side-effects.
You can read more about facet joint injuries here.
Your Chiropractor will discuss with you the frequency of visits required for treatment. The healing process takes time and varies from person to person, often depending on the severity of the condition and the history of the complaint.
However, how active and compliant you are in your own treatment will influence your recovery time.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please contact Isis Chiropractic Centres here.