Facet Syndrome – Exercises to Avoid

Facet syndrome, or osteoarthritis of the spine, is a condition that develops in the facet joints — the joints that allow for movement in the spine. Healthy facet joints are lined with cartilage, which moves the spine smooth and painless. As aging occurs, however, this cartilage tends to wear down. It can eventually deteriorate enough to cause the bones in the facet joints to rub against each other. This can result in pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

Exercises to Avoid

When a patient first seeks treatment for facet syndrome, their physician will likely prescribe a combination of conservative treatments. The physician may also recommend that the patient make any necessary lifestyle modifications. This usually means avoiding any activities that will aggravate their condition. While it may be difficult for active individuals to modify their exercise routine, it is integral to healing. For those with facet syndrome, this usually means avoiding exercises that cause excessive strain to be placed on the back. This includes:

  1. Barbell squats. The lifter begins with a barbell on their shoulders, holding onto it with their hands a little past shoulder-width apart. Keeping the chest up, the lifter bends at the knees, keeping their weight on their heels until their upper legs come into contact with their lower legs. Then, they reverse the motion and drive the weight upward until they are back at the starting position.
  2. Good mornings. Starting at the same position as they would a barbell squat and with their knees slightly bent, the lifter slowly bends forward, keeping their back straight, until their torso is parallel with the ground. Then, the lifter will reverse its motion and return to the starting position.
  3. Deadlifts. The lifter begins by standing behind the barbell with their feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping their back straight, they bend at the knees and grab the bar. Once they have a firm grasp on the bar, the lifter straightens their knees and pushes their hips forward while keeping their back and arms straight. Once standing, the lifter returns to the bent-over position and repeats the process.

These are only three examples of exercises those with facet syndrome should avoid. If you are unsure whether or not your current exercise routine will interfere with your treatment or make your condition worse, be sure to check with your physician.

Facet Syndrome Surgery at BEST Health System

Surgery may become necessary if a patient does not find meaningful relief after several weeks or months of conservative treatment for facet syndrome. For those looking to avoid the lengthy recovery time typical of traditional open spine surgery, BEST Health System offers minimally invasive outpatient surgery as an alternative. Our procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice and offer a reduced risk of infection and complications compared to traditional open neck or back surgery. Contact BEST to learn more.