Most Common Cause of Low Back Pain


Facet syndrome is the term used for perhaps the single most common cause of low back pain. Doctors at the University Hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada studying almost 1300 cases of low back pain found that this disorder occurred more frequently in their patients than any other diagnosis. In a similar study, researchers at West Virginia University Medical Center reported in 1987 that the failure to diagnose facet syndrome was the single most common cause of unsuccessful back surgery. In this study, 69% of those who had had unsuccessful back surgery proved to have undiagnosed facet syndrome.

Facet syndrome originates from pain stimulus from the small joints on the back portion of the spinal vertebra, the portion called the “facet”. These joints involve an overlapping piece of bone from two adjoining vertebrae that glide over each other during movement of the back. Degeneration of the cartilage surface between the two bones can cause them to bind during movement causing back pain and often pain down the back of the leg. Many persons with facet syndrome will prove not to have any cartilage degeneration in the joint but will have pain caused by stiffening of the joint which causes it to pinch during certain movements.

The most successful treatment of facet syndrome is chiropractic manipulation. In the study at the University Hospital in Canada, a group of 181 patients with facet syndrome was treated with chiropractic manipulation. Of these, 88% were reported as having a good or excellent result with treatment. This is a high treatment response rate for any group of back pain patients.

Perhaps the first consideration in the diagnosis of back pain should be that of facet syndrome. If this diagnosis is overlooked, needless suffering may occur. Through a thorough chiropractic evaluation, facet syndrome can be diagnosed and proper treatment began. Often those with back and leg pain can find relief of their symptoms when previous treatment has not helped.

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