Symptoms: Common symptoms of cervical facet syndrome include neck pain, neck stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain and upper back pain. Putting your neck in certain positions (rotated to the side, bent back, leaned forward) often makes the pain worse. Long periods of inactivity, like sleeping, tend to exacerbate the symptoms, which tend to improve throughout the day. It is often difficult to determine exactly where the pain originates.
Overview: Cervical facet syndrome can happen from a sudden turn of the head, a car accident, poor posture, poor sleeping habits, or vertebral subluxations.
Certain occupations, like secretarial positions, data entry positions, or any other profession necessitating prolonged periods of time in front of a computer monitor, have a higher risk of developing cervical facet syndrome from simply looking at a computer or holding a phone to their necks day after day. These activities place stress on the neck which leads to inflammation and pain.
Cervical facet syndrome originates in the joints in the vertebrae in your neck. When these joints get stuck or misaligned (subluxated) they become inflamed, which in turn irritates the surrounding nerves. When this happens, the irritated joints refer pain to other areas of the body. Depending on which facet joint is irritated determines where the referred pain occurs. The second and third facet joints refer pain to your back, while the fourth through the seventh joints can refer pain to your shoulder blade area and even into the upper extremities.
Cervical Facet syndrome is similar to cervical facet irritation: with the latter pain is localized to the facet joints; with the former pain is present in the joints as well as other areas.
Dr. Suzan Starler, D.C. is expert at dealing with both conditions, and can usually provide quick relief from the pain of cervical facet syndrome. In addition, she will develop a therapy plan specific to you which may include a regular exercise program so the condition does not return.