Thoracic Facet Sprain


The thoracic spine, also known as the mid back, is located between the cervical spine (neck) and the lumbar spine (low back). It consists of 12 separate vertebrae which are named from the top to the bottom as T1 to T12. The mobility in this region is restricted because of the presence of the rigid rib cage which houses and protects our internal organs such as the heart and lungs.

Two facet or zygapophyseal joints are located at the back of each vertebra and are the bony links between the vertebra above and below by means of a superior articular and inferior articular process.



The facet joints are termed synovial joints with hyaline cartilage, synovial lining and a joint capsule containing synovial fluid. The joint capsule wraps around the facet joints providing additional support. The facet joints are richly innervated by both pain and pressure receptors and therefore if a facet joint is injured, it can become very painful.

Any movement of the spine which excessively stretches or compresses the facet joints can injure this structure resulting in a facet sprain or a facet syndrome. These symptoms may come on whilst performing activities such as bending, lifting or twisting. Alternatively, the symptoms may be felt more the day after.

Symptoms arising from this condition can be very varied due to the compensatory muscle spasm and joint locking that can take place. In addition, the patient may have referred pain away from the site of injury, such as into the neck, arms, ribs and chest.

(The list of conditions given above and subsequent explanations are intended as a general guide and should not be considered a replacement for a full medical examination. Furthermore, we do not purport to treat all the conditions listed. Should you wish to discuss any of these conditions with our chiropractors, please do not hesitate to phone the clinic on 020 7374 2272 or email

Our team of chiropractors and massage therapists are on hand to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch today via or on +44 (0)20 7374 2272.

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