Cervical Facet Joint Pain

Cervical Facet Joint Pain

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Treating Cervical Facet Joint Pain: A Physiotherapist’s Guide

What is Cervical Facet Joint Pain?

Cervical facet joint pain, a common source of neck discomfort, arises when the neck’s facet joints sustain an injury. Located between the vertebrae, these synovial joints play a crucial role in guiding and limiting neck movement. Also known as neck facet joint disease, this condition can lead to pain and mobility issues.

Causes of Cervical Facet Joint Pain

This pain typically stems from joint disturbances causing either hypomobility (stiffening) or hypermobility (excessive movement). Causes range from neck arthritis, bone spurs, and muscle spasms to trauma like fractures or diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Physiotherapist treating patient with neck pain
Physiotherapy For Neck Pain Relief: Treating Cervical Facet Joint Pain.

Recognising Locked Facet Joints

Locked facet joints often result from simple yet awkward movements, exacerbated by previous injuries or muscle weakness. This locking can severely restrict mobility and is a common symptom of facet joint issues.

Read more: Acute Wry Neck


The primary symptom of a facet joint injury is pain, potentially extending to the shoulders or arms. Locked joints can particularly limit movement in specific directions, while muscle spasms may occur in response to an injury.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physiotherapists diagnose facet joint injuries through hands-on assessments, as standard imaging might not reveal the issue. Treatment varies, focusing on unlocking joints, regaining motion, and strengthening exercises to prevent recurrence. In cases of hypermobility, stabilisation programs are key.

What Results to Expect

Most patients experience significant relief through physiotherapy. The effectiveness depends on the duration and cause of the issue. Strengthening exercises are crucial for managing facet joint instability.

Other Treatment Options

Additional treatments include neck massages, dry needling, acupuncture, facet joint injections, and in chronic cases, radiofrequency treatment. However, these should complement, not replace, physiotherapy.


Cervical facet joint pain, while common, can significantly impact daily life. However, with the right physiotherapy approach, most patients can achieve substantial relief and improved quality of life.

What to Do?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of cervical facet joint pain, consulting with a professional physiotherapist is crucial. They can provide tailored advice and treatment plans suited to your specific needs. Remember, each case is unique, and your path to recovery will be personalised.

Neck Pain Causes

Welcome to the "Neck Pain Causes" page, where we comprehensively explore the factors contributing to neck pain. Neck pain results from a wide array of issues, including injuries to neck joints, muscle-related incidents, bone-related traumas, disc-related problems, nerve-related discomfort, vertigo symptoms, occupational triggers, headache and migraine factors, systemic diseases, and more.

Whether you seek information about muscle cramps, whiplash, osteoporosis, or posture improvement products, this page offers valuable insights and answers to frequently asked questions, aiding your understanding and management of neck pain causes.

General Information

Neck Joint Injuries

Muscle-related Injuries

Bone-related Injuries

Disc-related Injuries

Nerve-related / Referred Pain


Occupational Causes


Systemic Diseases

Neck & Posture Products & FAQs

Neck Pain FAQs

Your Comprehensive Guide

General Neck Pain FAQs

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Neck Pain
Neck Pain

FAQs on Neck Treatment

Your Road to Relief Relieving Neck Pain - What Can You Do?

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Dealing with a Wry Neck - Can You Fix It?

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Physiotherapy FAQs - What to Expect from Physiotherapy for Neck Pain?

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Medication FAQs - When is Medication Necessary for Neck Pain?

  • Learn about the role of medication in managing neck pain.

Surgery FAQs - When is Neck Surgery Considered as an Option?

  • Find out when surgery becomes a necessary option for neck pain.

Neck Exercises

Exercise FAQs - What Neck Exercises Can Help Alleviate Discomfort?

  • Discover exercises that can help in reducing neck discomfort.

Strengthening and Stabilising Your Neck - How It's Done

  • Learn techniques to strengthen and stabilise your neck.

Stretching FAQs - How Can Stretching Benefit Your Neck Health?

  • Understand the benefits of neck stretching exercises.

Neck, Vertigo & Dizziness FAQs

Can Your Neck Trigger Vertigo or Dizziness?

  • Explore the link between neck issues and vertigo or dizziness.

Headache FAQs

Solving Neck-Related Headaches

  • Find solutions for headaches caused by neck problems.

Bid Farewell to Neck Headaches - How to Do It

  • Learn strategies to overcome neck-related headaches.

Posture FAQs

Correcting Years of Poor Posture

  • Get tips on how to correct long-standing poor posture.

Improving Your Posture - What Steps to Take

  • Understand the steps necessary for improving your posture.

Posture Improvement Products & FAQs - Your Posture Allies

  • Discover products that can aid in improving your posture.

Lifestyle and Ergonomics FAQs

How Can Your Daily Habits Affect Neck Health?

  • Learn how everyday habits impact neck health.

Pillow FAQs

Finding the Perfect Pillow

  • Tips on how to find the ideal pillow for neck support.

Pillows: The Ultimate Guide

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Healthiest Sleeping Postures - What Are They?

  • Understand the best sleeping postures for neck health.

Choosing the Best Pillow - What Works for You?

  • Guidance on selecting the best pillow based on individual needs.

Identifying an Unsupportive Pillow - The Telltale Signs

  • Learn the signs of a pillow that doesn't provide adequate support.
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