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Probable cervical facet syndrome -- what to do?

Frank321FFrank321 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I developed a "stiff neck" three days ago. I don’t think this is as serious as some of the very serious neck problems in this forum, but nevertheless perhaps someone has advice for me. This is my first ever post in the neck pain message board.

It is painful to turn my head to the sides. Even the acceleration of a car, from starting to getting moving, the momentum forces cause a bit of pain. Getting into bed is painful, as that involves twisting my head, though once my head is resting on the pillow while I'm laying on my back, the neck feels okay. Turning onto my side in bed is quite painful, so I sleep only on my back.

When I swallow in normal head position I get a pain in the upper right neck. When I elongate my head up and back and swallow, I don't get a pain or spasm in the upper right neck. Thus I have to carefully elongate my head when swallowing after chewing or drinking.

I saw my local physiotherapist yesterday. She says “stiff neck” is too broad a term to use. She thought my probelm was not muscle tension, but the C1/C2 (could be C0/C1) facet joint (“zed” joint she called it) was not gliding, and this was causing the muscles around it to tense and spasm to protect it when it was aggravated. I am guessing she was referring to "cervical facet syndrome". As in link removed
I can definitely feel the pain and soreness centers on the upper right inside neck, though the whole neck reacts with pain if I move it sideways. I can move my head forward and down with no problem.

While I first noticed tension in my neck muscles it was after laying on my stomach on the floor mat with my head twisted to the side in a Pilates exercise class. (Similar to sleeping laying on your stomach.) It wasn’t an immediately acutely painful injury where you know immediately that something bad has happened. Rather, the neck become more painful hours later.

Anyone have anything similar or know of someone with something similar? What was your experience? How long did it take to recover? One bit of advice I’ve seen is: “Perform slow range-of-motion exercises -- up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear -- to gently stretch the neck muscles.” Did you do those exercises? Did you let your physiotherapist manipulate your facet joint to try to mobilise it? Any good webpage or forum post on this type of problem that I should look at?

Any comments welcomed. I will answer any follow up questions to me.



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  • I'm a lucky man, and symptoms have eased the following day to where I can more or less resume my normal activities.

    Sometimes luck is good luck!

    Next step is figuring out neck care (exercises, stretching) to prevent similar in the future.
  • Frank,

    I'm glad your symptoms are resolving on their own.

    I've had a fusion at C4-5 with grafts, plates and screws. Lots more obviosly, but I take a yoga class and it helps immensley with streching, gently, and not just the neck.

    I used to be a runner in college, and the coaches really stressed, stretching and warming up. Helps to prevent a lot of sports injuries.

    So maybe mix it up a little with the Pilates, and keep that neck in shape.

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  • susabellssusabell Illinois Posts: 241
    Hi Frank,

    I have been diagnosed with Cervical Facet Syndrome just very recently. It is a very painful condition, however with the proper medication it can be controlled. Glad you are feeling Better!
    ACDF C4-C7 5/13/2010. Synthetic Bone Graft Failed Fusion.
    PCF C4-C7 8/13/13. Rods and Screws Fused in 3 Months with Autograft.
    C6-C7 Spineous process Surgically Shaved Off 3/11/14.
    Sciatica 3/11/16 Left Leg prescribed Medrol Pack 6 days also Physical Therapy.
  • Sometimes when I get up from the bed early in the morning feel neck not severe, mild. This can be cleared just by applying a pain balm and massaging.
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