What You Can Do About It

The aims of self-treatment for facet joint arthropathy

With facet joint trouble, the primary objectives are to raise the height of the disc and relieve the congestion of the joint; and then make it run more smoothly. In the acute phase the joint is extremely irritable and treatment is designed to 'milk' it of its swelling. The technique of rocking the knees to the chest does this. Once the joint is emptier and less painful, pivoting on the problem level helps mobilise it. The reverse curl-up exercises work it actively. Abdominal strengthening usually brings about a dramatic reduction in pain because the raised abdominal tone lifts the spine off the painful joint. This exercise also relieves congestion by subjecting the joint to the normal contracting and relaxing of the muscles around it. Briefly using the tennis ball at this stage can also reduce the swelling of the facet joint, but care must be taken because it is easy to make things worse. The correct way to do this is by lying on your back on the floor, knees bent, and positioning the ball under the sore spot. Roll back and forth on the ball, and press the pain away. If a ball is too much then you can use a pair of rolled-up socks. The pressure is less.

In the chronic phase the treatment is much more vigorous. It is aimed at stretching the inelastic joint capsule into its extremes of range. This promotes joint lubrication and cartilage regeneration by alternately closing down and pulling the joint apart. The rapid alterations in pressure contact of the joint surfaces also encourages more active regeneration of the cartilage bed. The Cobra to Child Pose exercise does this. Rolling on a tennis ball or Ma Roller pummels a tight joint capsule and gives the joint more freedom to move.

In the final stages of treatment, disimpaction of the neurocentral core is the ultimate objective. The BackBlock achieves this, and also restores an optimal lumbar hollow. It does this by stretching the front of the hips (the hip flexors) thus reducing an exaggerated lordosis, but it can also correct a pronounced lumbar kyphosis (less commonly a background factor with this condition) by stretching the anterior longitudinal ligament down the front of the spine. While on the Block it is often useful to rotate the pelvis in a minute twisting action which helps disengage the lumbar facets.

Ordinary toe touches are also important. These stretch shrunken facet capsules which, in the case of an exaggerated lordosis, exert a bow-string effect to keep the spine hollowed.

Ultimately, diagonal toe touches pull a tethered nerve root free of adhesions in the small exit-canal (foramen) which may have developed from longstanding inflammation. These exercises also enhance the function of multifidus. The vigour of the action makes the muscles relax properly as the spine goes down and then works them on the way up. Their re-education helps restore joint perfusion (circulation of fluids) and leads to better muscular control in the opening and closing of all lumbar facets.

A typical self-treatment for acute facet joint arthropathy

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on the disc, disperse joint inflammation and swelling, strengthen tummy muscles and switch off overactive erector spinae muscles, and gap open the back of the spine to decompress the facet joints and introduce pressure changes to the disc.

Purpose:

Reverse curl ups

(five excursions)

Rocking knees to the chest

(60 seconds) Rest

REPEAT BOTH EXERCISES 3 TIMES

Rest in bed and use medication under the direction of your doctor. NSAIDs are particularly effective in reducing the pain from the inflamed joint so painkillers are not usually necessary. Repeat exercises every 3 hours throughout the day. When resting, you may be more comfortable in the foetal position with a pillow between the knees to decompress the joint. See Chapter 7 for descriptions of all exercises and the correct way to do them.

For how long? You can progress to the sub-acute regimen when there is no flooding pins and needles pain down the leg, either when standing up from sitting or when taking weight on the leg. This can take a week to ten days, though it may be sooner.

A typical self-treatment for sub-acute facet joint arthropathy

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on the disc, disperse joint inflammation and swelling, strengthen tummy muscles and switch off overactive erector spinae muscles, break up the brittle jamming of the spinal segments to disengage the jamming of the segments, stretch facet capsules and gap open the back of the spine to decompress the facet joints to introduce pressure changes to the disc.

Purpose:

Rocking knees to the chest

(30 seconds) Rest (30 seconds)

Reverse curl ups

(five excursions)

Rolling along the spine

(30 seconds)

REPEAT ALL THREE EXERCISES 3 TIMES Squatting

(once for 30 seconds)

SQUAT THROUGH THE DAY TO EASE PAIN AND TIGHTNESS OF THE LOW BACK

Repeat the regimen morning and evening. After each session, rest on the floor for ten minutes with your lower legs supported on a sofa or soft chair, and a pillow under your head. As a progression of spinal rolling, you can pivot on the painful spot which creates a sharp pain in the back. When up and about, avoid sitting in one position, or standing for too long. (This will usually bring on the pain down the leg.) Have two brief walks per day (less than fifteen minutes). You should walk tall and light, drawing your pelvic floor up and letting your hips swing freely so the low back twists from left to right.

For how long? You should progress to the chronic treatment regimen when there is no leg pain. This usually takes a week to ten days but it may be much sooner.

A typical self-treatment for chronic facet joint arthropathy

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on the disc, disperse joint inflammation and swelling, strengthen tummy muscles and switch off overactive erector spinae muscles, gap open the back of the spine to decompress the facet joints to introduce pressure changes to the disc, break up the brittle jamming of the spinal segments to disengage the jamming of the segments, encourage cartilage regeneration of facet joints, stretch facet capsules, strengthen segmental control of multifidus, decompress spine to promote disc repair, and release nerve root tethering.

Purpose:

Rocking knees to the chest

(60 seconds) Rest (30 seconds)

Rolling along the spine

(60 seconds & also pivot on the painful spot)

Cobra to Child Pose and squat

(back and forth 3 times)

Segmental bridging

(up and down 3 times)

BackBlock routine Step 1 Step 2 s (30 sees) Step 3

REPEAT ALL FIVE EXERCISES 3 TIMES

(15 times)

(15 times)

Repeat program every evening, and continue with NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories). At this stage you can often feel the soreness of the joint in the side of your back and the muscles clenching if it gets too congested.

For how long? Continue indefinitely.

When you no longer have leg pain you can include the following two exercises in your routine:

Floor twists

(three to bad side, one to good)

Diagonal toe touches

(down to each foot 3 times)

How To Win Your War Against Back Pain

How To Win Your War Against Back Pain

Knowing the causes of back pain is winning half the battle against it. The 127-page eBook, How To Win Your War Against Back Pain, explains the various causes of back pain in a simple manner and teaches you the various treatment options available. The book is a great pain reliever in itself. The sensible, practical tips that it presents will surely help you bid good-bye to back pain forever.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment