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running with facet arthritis

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am a 49 year old competitive runner with left L5-S1 facet arthritis.

The facet joint on the affected side has an abnormal angle (more sagittal) compared with the unaffected right side. About 8mos ago I developed severe pain while training. Initially it was dx'd as disc herniation (no imaging done) although pain was atypical as it did not radiate below the buttocks, and maneuvers that often produce discogenic pain were negative.

MRI eventually done showed normal discs but facet arthritis as mentioned. Subsequent CT scan showed arthritis with hypertrophied joint capsule, osteophytes, probable ostephyte fx as a cause for sudden pain, and abnormal sagittal joint orientation. I had no pain for the previous 49 years here. I have no pain at rest or while walking. Can run up the stairs with no pain. I obviously want to return to running but am weighing the risk of worsening the problem against refraining from my passion and being miserable. Life is short. Anyone with similar history have a successful return to running .
Thank you.


  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am not a runner but i can say if it is hurting you don't do it. talk to a physical therapist or even a sports medicine doctor about this if you are having doubts. :-C risking a lifetime of pain when not running is definitely not worth the risk, believe me or anyone here for that matter!! go to a local pain clinic and talk to a few people there about taking UNNECESSARY chances if you have further doubts. i am sure a few have pain for that very reason!! please think it over and you may find it necessary to become interested in something else, maybe swimming or walking. don't laugh! =)) you would probably stay pain free!! Jenny :)
  • I also have facet joint arthritis in L5/S1. I am fused from L1 to L5. I thought I would be able to return to running after the fusion but now with the arthritis I am on hold. I miss it terribly. Thankfully I have always been a swimmer and swimming feels so good on my back. I am still able to ride my bike too so sometimes you just have to find something else to do, but really, nothing can replace running. Talk to a good PT who specializes in backs. Good luck.


    14 surgeries including L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 degree fusion with instrumentation, L1-L5 fusion with hardware and bone graft from hip, accupuncture, PT, prolotherapy, numerous cortisone injections and rhizotomys.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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  • Hi, I am also a runner, and I was training for the RnRoll Half at Phoenix when I began having arm problems. Turned out to be my neck! I try to keep not running in perspective, and when I get too discouraged, I remember a post I read on a RW forum. Runners were moaning about not being able to run and someone posted a response like "hey, runners--let's keep this in perspective! At least we can still walk and bike." I know how miserable it is not being able to run. I had a hard time this year not doing a Turkey Trot for the first time in 25 years! I know this may not help your pain much, but know that you have support here at SH. There are lotsa folks here that have to give up stuff they loved to do, and it's never easy. Keep us posted. ---Mazy
  • Thanks for your responses. I could have many worse things than not being able to run and tell myself this every time I feel down.
    I wish all of you the best, pain free, happy holidays and the same for your loved ones. :)
  • I also have this and am amazed that you can run up stairs, walk and have no pain/stiffness in the morning. When I try to walk for any distance, my back locks up on me and I feel severe pain. I am not a runner so the only advice that I can give is to talk to your doc about it. Good luck to you and keep us posted.
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