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Facet Joints

The human body is complex and often confusing. Here’s an example of how the facet joints in the neck can refer pain to the shoulder or scapula or arm and may present as though the problem is elsewhere. Facet joints are similar to other joints in the body in that they get stiff as a result of muscle tension, swelling, ligament injury, degenerative change or other insult. Movement of these joints allows us to move our head in every direction.

See below to see what makes up a facet joint (a side view). These joints lie along the entire length of our spine from the first neck joint (C1) to last low back joint (L5) and run down both sides of the spine (thankssocalpain.com for the image).

Then have a look at the diagram below to see how different joints in the neck, for example cervical facet joint number 6 (made up of C5 and C6) may refer pain to the lateral shoulder or inside the shoulder blade.

Of course, sometimes the pain in your shoulder or shoulder blade is actually due to a more local problem but this is where a Health Professional can help you in resolving your pain.

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