Facet joint chiropractic adjustment is basically an inherent aspect of virtually all spinal manipulations commonly performed by chiropractors. This is because in order to correct vertebral subluxations, the facet joints will have to be set into optimal alignment and functionality.
Since chiropractic inherently treats the facet joints through spinal manipulation, it is no surprise that many patients seek primary care from a chiropractor after being diagnosed with facet joint pain. However, what benefits does chiropractic provide for confirmed cases of facet joint symptomology? Additionally, does the specific nature of the facet joint diagnosis dictate the level of efficacy offered by spinal adjustments?
This discussion provides some pertinent information about using spinal manipulation to treat facet joint pain. We will discuss why the facet joints are common targets for chiropractic manipulation, the benefits offered by spinal adjustments and the types of diagnoses which are best indicated and worst suited for chiropractic care.
Facet Joint Chiropractic Adjustment Factsheet
By nature, virtually all spinal adjustments will act on the facet joints, since it is these joints that help to maintain spinal alignment and regulate vertebral position and movement in the backbone. However, for patients who are diagnosed with facet joint pain conditions, chiropractors can use specialized adjustments to decompress areas of the spine and remove pressure from painful facet joints.
All the usual methods of chiropractic adjustment will affect the spinal facet joints. This includes inward pressure spinal adjustments, rotational spinal adjustments, tractioning spinal adjustments and other varieties of manipulation.
Facet Joint Chiropractic Adjustment by Diagnosis
Chiropractic adjustments can be used to treat virtually all manner of facet joint pain diagnoses, including facet syndrome and foraminal stenosis caused by facet joint osteophytes. However, some conditions might contraindicate chiropractic adjustments due to safety concerns, such as facet joint instability demonstrated over many joints, resulting in macroinstability of the spine. Conditions such as this might create unnecessary risk of injury to patients.
Some facet joint conditions will be extremely painful when treated with spinal adjustments. Typically, these conditions are worsened by movement and will flare-up acutely when the specific joint is mobilized during manipulation. Patients are sternly warned that some chiropractors still maintain a “no pain, no gain” philosophy and will justify all forms of torturous manipulation of the even the most sensitive and painful joints. These types of chiropractors have a sadistic streak and should be arbitrarily avoided in favor of more humane practitioners. It is no coincidence that it is this type of “all or nothing” chiropractor who most often injures their patients, regardless of the diagnosis they have received. Do yourself a favor and avoid these types of sadists. You are receiving spinal adjustments to get care; not torment…
Facet Joint Chiropractic Adjustment Evaluation
Chiropractic seems to be best suited in cases of facet joint misalignment, as well as in patients who demonstrate the need for decompression of select spinal levels due to osteophyte growth. Some chiropractic practices, like Cox Technic, can be very effective for resolving some varieties of facet joint pain. Likewise, modern nonsurgical spinal decompression offered by such machines as the DRX-9000, AccuSpina, Antalgic Trak, Hill DT and VAX-D systems can also benefit most patients and might even provide a lasting cure for chronic facet joint pain.
Chiropractic is not optimally suited for patients with macroinstability in areas of the spine, due to potential for dire spinal nerve or spinal cord trauma from forced mobilization. Sure, special care can be exercised, but why take chances with your physical functionality and very life when other care options are better suited to these circumstances?
There is some evidence that chiropractic in combination with physical therapy can help to reduce pain due to facet osteophytes over time. Typically, the process of wearing these growths down takes an extended duration and might involve acute pain during and immediately after treatment, but the overall symptoms might resolve organically over time, allowing the patient to avoid surgical intervention that is commonly performed to eliminate these spurs.