Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


Quick Start Forum Video Tutorial

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Missing Facet Joint

I was wondering if anyone here has heard of a facet joint birth defect? I was born without my L5 S1 facet joint. My spinous process at that level is misaligned and spilt in half as well. It seems to be pretty rare and I can't find much about it.



  • Hi, Emily. I came across your post while searching for information. You're right .... There's not a lot of info on this. I have found out that I was born without a left-side facet joint at L5/S1. I've had back pain on and off for most of my life, and in 2905 had my cervical spine fused at three levels due to degeneration. I've had both shoulders operated on for bone spur impingement as well. Now I think it is all related. The CT scan showed a chronic left-sided pars fracture at this level as well as severe foraminal stenosis on the right side from bone spurring.

    I have had two epidural steroid injections ... The second one just a couple of days ago. The first was a failure because doc couldn't get into the space he needed to inject the meds ... Too much spurring. The second one was successfully done but has given no relief. I have an appt on the 9th with the spine specialist who fused my neck to review all this,

    What treatment have you tried? What are your symptoms? How are you doing? :)
  • Thank you so much for replying to me!! I have felt so alone for a long time and it's nice to know I'm not! I suppose there is so little on this defect because it is extremely rare according to my research and doctors. I started having extreme low back pain 4 years ago but I can remember having slight pain when I was younger. After a few months it turned into extreme hip pain. I saw soooo many doctors, many who just walked out and said I was crazy and sent me to PT with anti inflammatory meds. Then I found a doc that said I have bursitis in my hip and a tight IT band. He wanted to do surgery so we did. Long story short I found myself back in his office still in pain and he told me I was letting the pain ruin my life and I should just be young and happy.

    So I said forget that I'm 20 years old and in extreme pain I'm not living. Finally found a doctor after about 10 of them that didn't stop looking for the problem. Turns out, an MRI I had done 4 years ago noted the defect and the doc ignored it. After a completely unnecessary surgery, wasted time and worsening pain, I'm happy to have a true diagnosis. Now I just want something to work. I've had 1 epidural injection that failed and I'm scheduled for another in a few weeks. The facet joint across from my missing one is highly arthritic and very swollen. Does yours have anything odd like that? I'm on Neurontin right now to try it and I'm really not sure about it. They've also put me on ultram as well but that does almost nothing. I honestly can't get any true relief without something stronger so I'm considering a pain specialist after my spine doctor finds the best solution.

    My main symptoms are lower back pain that is more of an achy feeling. Standing for long periods of time, sleeping and bending down to due things like laundry are pretty painful. My butt, hip and thigh burn and can get a very sharp pain in them when I walk. I also have this weird shooting pain that goes to the top of my feet which they suspect is nerve damage. My knee swells on occasion , I have horrible balance because of the defect and my hips being tilted forward by my body to protect my back and I'm really tired all the time. Have you had any hip pain? I even have tender spots on my hips that hurt when I sleep and when docs push on them.

    Again, thank you for responding. Any info you can give me about things that youve went through is greatly appreciated. Right now I'm trying to get the nasty burning pain to stop in my butt, hip and thighs because sometimes that side effect is worse than the back pain. I believe some muscles are extremely tight because they are trying to protect me but there hasn't been a very good solution to it yet. How do you feel?
  • advertisement
  • hmcarlsonhhmcarlson Posts: 1
    edited 09/03/2013 - 6:59 PM
    WOW! I can't believe I am not alone! I have had two great things happen today! First - I finally found a doctor who could tell me what was wrong with my back and 2nd - I found this posting!

    I have spent the last 7 years in pain and refusing to give up. I saw a new doctor today who finally REALLY looked at my MRI and CAT scans and showed me that I do not have a L5/S1 facet joint. Your symptoms are exactly what mine have been.

    Are either of you still out there?

  • i am sure that you will find your time on spine-health very rewarding. this site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    here are just some of the highlights:

    - detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal conditions and treatment

    - the wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - under the resource tab, there is a section doctor advice health center which can be invaluable.

    - as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 international members and growing daily.

    - it is very important to understand the forum rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - as a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. you should read forum faq

    here are some you should take a look at:
    read before you post
    tips for newcomers
    understanding the rules

    all of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    if you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the private message facility to contact any one of the moderators on my team:






    you can try clicking on the private message feature under each member user name and send them a private message if you would like. sometimes posters are still around but do not post regularly and will check their private message boxes from time to time.
  • cmborgeccmborge Posts: 1
    edited 08/21/2014 - 5:44 AM
    Hi everyone. So far, these posts have really helped me feel not alone. I've been having spinal pain since I was young and was diagnosed with scoliosis. Then, we checked on it a year after and it went from 7 degrees to 11 degrees (which isn't bad) BUT the doctor dismissed me saying it was due to puberty and wouldn't worsen. I am now 21 and finally went to a doctor because my entire back was in extreme pain. There would be days that I could not even bend down to tie my own shoes. My x-ray has shown that it is now at 33 degrees. I was so confused at how it could worsen that much. My first doctor told me that I have a missing joint in my lower back which has worsened it. I saw the MRI and it did seem to be missing. Then I went to get a second opinion and he said nothing is there and my spine got worse because I have "weak back muscles." I went to get my epidermal shots and trigger shots and the doctor doing it mentioned that he saw that I had a missing joint. So now i'm excited that I had a final answer to all my back pain. BUT this morning my mom got a call from the second doctor that said I did not have the missing joint saying he contacted my doctor who gave me the shots and they both agree that I don't have it and that the doctor giving me my shots misdiagnosed me. I am in a back brace and have gotten only one session of my shots, but am still in the amount of pain. I am going to see a doctor in Chicago from Western this wednesday, but i'm kind of lost as to if this has happened to anyone else.
  • advertisement
  • I have spondylothesis grade 1 on L4/L5 with degenerative dics on L4/L5/S1. Doctors not sure what to do or know what's holding the back together due to no facet joints in the L4/L5. I have extreme pain everyday and now when I stand up most of the time the back pops. Fusion seems to be the only answer but not sure how that will work with no facets. I wanted to know if anyone has had surgery with no facet joint.
  • https://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-message-resource
    fusion surgery uses screws and rods to support the spine structures while the two vertebra are fused into one segment. the facet joints would be removed as part of the surgery, so yours being missing would not effect the surgery.
  • So here I am frustrated and over the pain. I decided to go to the local chiropractic college to get an adjustment. And low and behold after xrays students discovered that I am missing L5/s1facet joint. I don't know if I should be relieved or angry. Been in pain since 2000. 16 yrs countless xrays, doctors, and not one person could tell me why or what happened. I always thought in was my hip that was the problem. So I'm glad I'm not the only one, but now I know absolutely nothing about where to go from here. 
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.