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Facet joints locking up after surgery??? Is this normal, how do i stop it?

FormerfireFFormerfire Posts: 148
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Lower Back Pain
Can anyone help me work this out?

I had microdiscectomy L5S1 May 08 and have not recovered well enough. I still cannot lift my back off the floor if i am lying on my back (arch it), I cannot lie on my stomach.

Surely this is unnacceptable.

Physio says my left psoas is locked on and my right isn't firing.

Chiro says my pelvis on the left is twisted inwards.

Physio says the loss of disc height is causing facet joints to lock up???? How do I unlock it?????

I am on valium for the back spasms, which are probably doing something but obviously not alot.

My sleeping at night is getting worse again, i am tossing and turning in pain.

I am at my wits end. Is this a permanent result of surgery?

I have had 2 lots of facet joint injections around the area which bring relief for a week, so they think it is only just bringing physical relief by separating the facet joints/

Do you have any ideas????

I also am getting hip bursitis which doesn't help me walk either.

Thanks for any help you have :)


  • What do you mean by locking up?

    I had a lot of problems with my facets, arthritis and bone spurs. They guessed that a lot of my pain was coming from my facets and hence recommended a fusion (I had DDD also) to stop movement of the lower spine and facets.

    It is almost 3 weeks since surgery and I can still "crack my back" through most of my lumbar spine. It sounds to me like the facets rubbing against each other but I don't know for sure. It feels good to crack it like that.

    I have had problems with psoas and that definitely has contributed to my pain without a doubt. The chiro releases it and it helps.

    I also find that when I am sitting and try to stand, my back "locks" and I can't straighten out my back without screaming. This used to happen a lot pre-surgery although the chiro was able to get it under control so that it was painful but not to the point of screaming anymore. However, just a couple days ago it happened again - POST - SURGERY, which makes me worried that this fusion isn't going to fix as much as I need it to. It was only once although I still have trouble straightening out, if someone is there to hold on to, I can stand up with just moderate pain.
  • Hi I was just reading your posts about psoas i was doing some research on the psoas muscle and i came across a hospital in italy that were doing research on it they actually did a psoas muscle release on a man and corrected a foot problem.............he was pain free and his hip restrictions disappeared .........i thought it was amazing, i have done a post in chronic pain............please have a look
  • after my last operation i now have a lot of problems with my facet joints too as i am typing this my back is really painful {i have been out most of the day].i asked my physio about facet joint hypertrophy and she said that in my case there is nothing that can be done as it is so extensive ..the only thing that's the ache away {to some degree} is high doses of oxycontin and my tens and rest but like you i am in pain a lot with it ..i am afraid you will have to put up with it ....sorry....
  • you may get some relief by using anti inflamatory drugs to loosed up the joints. i think there is a fluid that surrounds these joints. as you move around in the corse of the day the fluid accumulates more and there is some relief. is that the case with you?
    there is surgery for the facet joints. why not check with surgeon after your last procedure has settled down.
  • Thanks guys. i am going to the surgeon again today. I must say I am not willing to put up with this level of inactivity and pain. All the medico's come from a different angle , but was wondering if someone had an overall view.

    My little theory, based on nothing, is that maybe there are nerves in the facet joint, and cause the joint is mechanically rubbing over itself the nerve is firing causing my psoas to stay switched on all the time, which might be the cause of twisted pelvis? Also, maybe the nerves through the facet joint or around it (i dont even know which they are) might supply the muscles around my hip causing the spasm.

    Does that sound plausible? Does anyone know anything about those nerves.

    I read that they can burn the nerves around the facet joint, i wonder if that releases the psoas???

    Hmmmm more research required.
  • Maybe locking up isn't a good description. If I am lying on the floor my back is awfully weak and I have to roll over onto all fours to try and get up. It was like this before microdiscectomy but thought it was due to disc herniation, but maybe there has always been underlying facet joint problem at the same time.

    Anti inflammatories haven't seemed to work yet.

    But, facet joint injections bring relief for a week but they think that is purely due to adding fluid to joints which stops the mechanical rubbing that causes pain.

    Oh i wish I was a dr!!!!
  • Well, the verdict is in. Off to hospital again on Friday to burn the nerve branches that come off around the facet joints. Apparently the facet joint pain is felt in the lower back, hip and groin.

    So the theory is, this will give me 3 months at least without pain so I can exercise those core muscles and try and take the strain off the facet joints.

    Here's hoping it works. I am a tad nervous, doesn't sound pleasant.
  • Please let us know how it goes! Good luck!
  • Well, 3 days later and I think it has done something. I can bend (which is quite amazing) without pain, and I can get up from the floor without moaning and groaning, so it must have done something.

    Unfortunately I have hip bursitis which has flared up at the same time so I am still in pain (you think this body could just get it all together in one hit wouldn't you).

    I am hopeful now that if i get rid of the hip pain, i can exercise and get strong. I will let you know how it goes from here with the facets, but I definitely feel a difference and people are commenting that my face appears pain free for the first time in a long time.

    Thanks for all your help and comments and concern.
  • i wasnt aware they could burn the nerves. thanks for info. i have extensive facet problems like Straker. i'm going to check with my doc. but maybe mine are just too extensive. get going now building up the muscles!!!
  • Hey Pete, it's great! I can move SO SO SO much more today than yesterday. I am really pleased. This is the one time i will be praying that the nerves heal slowly lol.

    If its facet pain they can burn the nerve branches all around there. My understanding is that you obviously couldn't burn major nerves like sciatic etc because they are crucial...but the nerve branches from the facet joints are obviously not that crucial to everyday life. Well, in my case they are over reactive and are causing all the muscles to spasm etc.

    Definitely look into it. I am so happy with the result so far.
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