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Also recognized as the zygapophyseal or apophyseal joint, is a synovial joint between the superior articular procedure of one vertebra and also the inferior articular process of the vertebra directly above it. There are two page joints in each spinal activity segment.

The side joints are situated in between the pedicle and also lamina that the same vertebra and kind the articular pillars the act to carry out structural security to the vertebral shaft as a whole.

Together through the disc, the bilateral side joints transfer loads and also guide and also constrain movements in the spine because of their geometry and mechanical function<1>.

Articulating Surfaces

Articular facet on the superior procedure of the vertebra below with the articular page on the worse articular procedure of the vertebra above. The remarkable facet that the inferior vertebra is rather level in the cervical and thoracic areas and much more convex in the lumbar region. The opposing worse facet that the exceptional vertebra is concave and also forms one arch through its apex pointing in the direction of the vertebral body

Facets joints have various orientations depending on the area:

Cervical Region = 45 degrees; frontal plane; all movements are possible such as flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.

The articulating facets in the cervical vertebrae face 45 degrees to the transverse airplane and lied parallel come the frontal plane, with the superior articulating procedure facing posterior and also up and the inferior articulating processes encountering anteriorly and also down.

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Thoracic Region = 60 degrees; frontal plane; lateral flexion and also rotation; no flexion/extension

The facet joints between surrounding thoracic vertebrae space angled at 60° come the transverse plane and 20° come the frontal plane, with the superior facets encountering posterior and also a tiny up and laterally and the inferior facets encountering anteriorly, down, and medially

Lumbar Region = 90 degrees; sagittal plane; just flexion and also extension.

The facet joints in the lumbar region lie in the sagittal plane; the articulating facets are at appropriate angles come the transverse aircraft and 45° to the frontal plane. The exceptional facets challenge medially, and the worse facets challenge laterally. This transforms at the lumbosacral junction, wherein the apophyseal joint moves right into the frontal airplane and the inferior facet ~ above L5 deals with front. This change in orientation keeps the vertebral shaft from sliding forward on the sacrum<2>.


The posterior ligamentous complicated acts to stabilise the vertebral column and hold the facet joints the the adjoining vertebrae in addressed relation through each other. That is comprised of the following structures:

Motions Available

The activities of each spinal segment are minimal by anatomical frameworks such as ligaments, intervertebral discs, and also facets. Specifically, anatomical structures reason the coupling of motions of the spine, the is, movements take place simultaneously. Flexion, extension, translation, axial rotation, and lateral bending room physiologically coupled. The specific pattern of coupling depends on the regional variations that anatomical structures. In the cervical and upper thoracic spine, side bending is coupled through axial rotation in the same direction. In the lumbar spine, lateral bending is coupled v axial rotation in the opposite direction. In the middle and also lower thoracic spine, the coupling pattern is inconsistent. However, the pattern of coupling will adjust depending ~ above which movement is initiated first. In the lumbar spine, lateral bending will certainly be coupled v axial rotation in the same direction if lateral bending is the very first movement. Vice versa, if axial rotation is the an initial movement, it will be coupled through lateral bending in the opposite direction.

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Guide and also limit movement of the spinal movement segment. Add to security of each motion segment.

Clinical significance

Osteoarthritis (OA) the the spine involves the side joints (located in the posterior element of the vertebral column) and are the only true synovial joints between nearby spinal levels. Facet share osteoarthritis (FJ OA) is widely prevalent in larger adults, and is a common reason of back and neck pain. The prevalence of facet-mediated pains in clinical populations rises with raising age, saying that FJ OA can have a particularly important function in larger adults through spinal pain<6>. See also Facet share Syndrome

Diagnostic positive facet joint block have the right to indicate side joints as the source of chronic spinal pain. This patients may advantage from certain interventions to remove facet joint pain such as neurolysis, by radiofrequency or cryoablation<7>. A 2013 examine looking at easily accessible evidence the lumbar facet share injections and also the physiotherapy treatments, concluding that lumbar facet joint injections develop a short duration when pain is reduced. Physiotherapy treatments including land-based lower ago mobility exercise and soft tissue massage may be of benefit during this time to improve the longer-term outcomes that patients through chronic low ago pain.<8> See likewise Lumbar Facet share Injections , Lumbar facet Syndrome, Cervical Osteoarthritis