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  1. #1
    Registered User nkf176's Avatar
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    Facet joint issues - Exercises in gym?

    Hi,

    I'm 22, and lifted roughly 3 times a week from around 17-21. Through dead lifting (and probably squatting) with bad form, I have developed chronic lower back pain (right at the bottom of my back above my ass/on the pantline on the left and right) for the past 1-1.5 years at a pain of around 4/10, sometimes flaring. It sometimes jumps up my back (never down my legs) and I find it difficult to sit without any back support (e.g. sitting on the bed), and I have to sleep in certain positions so it doesn't hurt. Recently I get neck aches as well but I don't know if that's caused by the same lower back pain.

    The Doctor said it's my lumbar facet joints, specifically the muscles around the facet joints which have tightened to protect the joint after inflammation, and that 6-8 weeks of PT should sort it. Until I start with PT, I want to stay active and keep going to the gym/playing sport without aggravating the situation. I play basketball and football, and have noticed that I have to be extra careful, stretch more before, not over exert and not land after jumping with straight knees.

    In terms of the gym, what exercises can I do that will help with the recovery and keep me fit? I've been doing these exercises ('20 Min Lower Back Rehab - Lower Back Stretches for Lower Back Pain Exercises Workouts - Low Back' on Youtube) once every 2 days for the past 3 weeks to stretch and improve lower back strength.. It's too early to tell if it's working, but it does provide a little temporary relief. I don't touch weights anymore, the only exercises I do are pullups, dips, pushups, and I'm trying to add planks. I tried hanging leg raises to help with my core but this aggravated the pain (a quick google tells me it's to do with hip flexors?). I keep reading that hyperextensions are good, but they make the pain worse. With cardio, I used to run/jog, but I now stick to the elliptical and cycling mostly, and only occasionally go running.

    Is it ok to do the exercises I currently do (They don't really affect my lower back), and are there any I could add? Or is it best to stick to the stretches until PT?

    Anyone else with similar issues, did PT make a big difference? Reading some of the facet joint threads here is a little disheartening, but those guys seem to have more developed problems than mine. It's definitely significant pain, but the Doc said that PT should fix the issue... I just find this a little unrealistic that an issue I've had for over a year could be fixed in 8 weeks...
    Last edited by nkf176; 01-03-2018 at 08:17 AM.
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  2. #2
    Objective optimist Xuaxace's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nkf176 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm 22, and lifted roughly 3 times a week from around 17-21. Through dead lifting (and probably squatting) with bad form, I have developed chronic lower back pain (right at the bottom of my back above my ass/on the pantline on the left and right) for the past 1-1.5 years at a pain of around 4/10, sometimes flaring. It sometimes jumps up my back (never down my legs) and I find it difficult to sit without any back support (e.g. sitting on the bed), and I have to sleep in certain positions so it doesn't hurt. Recently I get neck aches as well but I don't know if that's caused by the same lower back pain.

    The Doctor said it's my lumbar facet joints, specifically the muscles around the facet joints which have tightened to protect the joint after inflammation, and that 6-8 weeks of PT should sort it. Until I start with PT, I want to stay active and keep going to the gym/playing sport without aggravating the situation. I play basketball and football, and have noticed that I have to be extra careful, stretch more before, not over exert and not land after jumping with straight knees.

    In terms of the gym, what exercises can I do that will help with the recovery and keep me fit? I've been doing these exercises ('20 Min Lower Back Rehab - Lower Back Stretches for Lower Back Pain Exercises Workouts - Low Back' on Youtube) once every 2 days for the past 3 weeks to stretch and improve lower back strength.. It's too early to tell if it's working, but it does provide a little temporary relief. I don't touch weights anymore, the only exercises I do are pullups, dips, pushups, and I'm trying to add planks. I tried hanging leg raises to help with my core but this aggravated the pain (a quick google tells me it's to do with hip flexors?). I keep reading that hyperextensions are good, but they make the pain worse. With cardio, I used to run/jog, but I now stick to the elliptical and cycling mostly, and only occasionally go running.

    Is it ok to do the exercises I currently do (They don't really affect my lower back), and are there any I could add? Or is it best to stick to the stretches until PT?

    Anyone else with similar issues, did PT make a big difference? Reading some of the facet joint threads here is a little disheartening, but those guys seem to have more developed problems than mine. It's definitely significant pain, but the Doc said that PT should fix the issue... I just find this a little unrealistic that an issue I've had for over a year could be fixed in 8 weeks...
    I have had this for probably 5+ years, it is also part of the reason why I ended up in PT school after I got **** treatment by a physiotherapists, I wanted to do better.

    Just to give you a brief recap, I hurt my back from stretching (strained QL), Which i didn't rehab properly. This lead to considerable chronic spasm of the back muscles + guarding, which chronically compressed my left facets (at least that is the hypothesis). Worst movemetns were romanian deadlifts, hyperextentions, or squats if I extended too much. So as you can see, this is a extention intolerance - this is important to know for the rehab phase.

    This 3 or so of those years I didn't go to anyone for rehab, I kept training through it, llots of pain while squatting, could barely deadlift, was locked
    here is an interesting video from 2 years back, you can see my back has "s****osis" due my left side being hyperactive - I had that for 4 or so years, I got rid of it now



    Anyway, within the last year or so I realised that my squatting technique (too much extentio) and volume was what was irritating my back, - using pin squats to fix my lumbopelvic position during the squat helped me massively, then I had to adjust my squatting volume to what my back could tolerate. I also realised that I did not have as much endurence in my lower back which meant that if the weight was heavy enough, I would revert to extenting my back to create bone to bone stability (pretty much what aggrivates my back).

    My recovery journey is towards the end now, I think I will have some lingering things here and there, but I know what makes my back worse so I know what to modify.

    Bringing this back to you - you have to know what movements aggrivate your back, modify them and progressively load them. A PT can be helpful during this process but I sure hope it is a good one that won't give you bull**** advice about X muscle causing your problems etc. You need to trust your back, don't be fearful of movement, regain movement and resilisence. If you are scared of moving your back, this won't go very well.

    If I have the time I might right a small program (of do's and don'ts) for people presenting with this symtoms, might be helpful to you.
    "Do not subordinate fundamental principles to minor details."

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  3. #3
    Registered User nkf176's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Xuaxace View Post
    I have had this for probably 5+ years, it is also part of the reason why I ended up in PT school after I got **** treatment by a physiotherapists, I wanted to do better.

    Just to give you a brief recap, I hurt my back from stretching (strained QL), Which i didn't rehab properly. This lead to considerable chronic spasm of the back muscles + guarding, which chronically compressed my left facets (at least that is the hypothesis). Worst movemetns were romanian deadlifts, hyperextentions, or squats if I extended too much. So as you can see, this is a extention intolerance - this is important to know for the rehab phase.

    This 3 or so of those years I didn't go to anyone for rehab, I kept training through it, llots of pain while squatting, could barely deadlift, was locked
    here is an interesting video from 2 years back, you can see my back has "s****osis" due my left side being hyperactive - I had that for 4 or so years, I got rid of it now



    Anyway, within the last year or so I realised that my squatting technique (too much extentio) and volume was what was irritating my back, - using pin squats to fix my lumbopelvic position during the squat helped me massively, then I had to adjust my squatting volume to what my back could tolerate. I also realised that I did not have as much endurence in my lower back which meant that if the weight was heavy enough, I would revert to extenting my back to create bone to bone stability (pretty much what aggrivates my back).

    My recovery journey is towards the end now, I think I will have some lingering things here and there, but I know what makes my back worse so I know what to modify.

    Bringing this back to you - you have to know what movements aggrivate your back, modify them and progressively load them. A PT can be helpful during this process but I sure hope it is a good one that won't give you bull**** advice about X muscle causing your problems etc. You need to trust your back, don't be fearful of movement, regain movement and resilisence. If you are scared of moving your back, this won't go very well.

    If I have the time I might right a small program (of do's and don'ts) for people presenting with this symtoms, might be helpful to you.
    It's interesting that you mention muscle imbalance, because the few times I asked for advice on my form when squatting/deadlifting/benching was that I lift unevenly, with a preference towards my left side. I wonder if this has had any effect on my back as it is today. However, mainly the pain's in my lower left side, with occasionally affecting my right side. I also don't think I have great posture in general which I'm not sure is a result of. Also, Doc said it wasn't quite a full spasm, but similar, like tightening? How bad was the muscle spasm? And what do you mean guarding?

    I also powered through the pain when I first felt it to see if it would go away.. hyperextending at the top of the deadlift and really exaggerating the full motion back down, and well it was at that moment I knew I ****ed up!(Like a year ago) It's been with me ever since.

    Anyways, it's good that you managed to see someone eventually and sort it out, and sure if you end up writing it let me know. What advice did your PT's give that was bad?

    I'm reading a lot on training my TVA muscle to help improve my core and hopefully reduce the pain, have you done much of that? Did you find it helpful?
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  4. #4
    Objective optimist Xuaxace's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nkf176 View Post
    It's interesting that you mention muscle imbalance, because the few times I asked for advice on my form when squatting/deadlifting/benching was that I lift unevenly, with a preference towards my left side. I wonder if this has had any effect on my back as it is today. However, mainly the pain's in my lower left side, with occasionally affecting my right side. I also don't think I have great posture in general which I'm not sure is a result of. Also, Doc said it wasn't quite a full spasm, but similar, like tightening? How bad was the muscle spasm? And what do you mean guarding?

    I also powered through the pain when I first felt it to see if it would go away.. hyperextending at the top of the deadlift and really exaggerating the full motion back down, and well it was at that moment I knew I ****ed up!(Like a year ago) It's been with me ever since.

    Anyways, it's good that you managed to see someone eventually and sort it out, and sure if you end up writing it let me know. What advice did your PT's give that was bad?

    I'm reading a lot on training my TVA muscle to help improve my core and hopefully reduce the pain, have you done much of that? Did you find it helpful?

    I didn't see anyone, I sorted it out on my own (with my knowledge and experience of PT)
    -The inbalance between sides can be the reason or the a potential consequence. For me, it was the a consequence. I irritated my back and the muscles on that side spasmed (to protect the area) which is what you can see in the video. I also would lean away towards the other side when squatting - probably to open up the facet joints during squatting and preventing early closure & irritation.

    Guarding are protective behaviours such as overbracing when moving, tensing the core really hard, changing the way you bend down etc. This patterns tend to lead to excessive contractions, and you have to remember that co-contraction of the core leads to compression at the back - which can be aggrivating the facet. (co contraction is when the anterior core e.g abs/obliques fire - and the erectors have to fire to maintain position).

    TVA is what I mean by sh*t physios do. Your TVA is not the problem, your core strength is NOT the problem. You have irritated a structure and you need to make it settle down, regain full movement and start loading compounds again with techniques that won't aggrivate your back (e.g being midful of extention and not going too hard to low back volume as this can result in irritation). A good physio would guide you through this properly. Unfortunately if you don't know much about rehab and lifting, this will be very difficult to do on your own, as you can see it took me years. It was only last year that I learnt enough at collage and through experts to put it all together
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  5. #5
    Registered User cox038's Avatar
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    Finally!! Someone with the same issue.

    Originally Posted by nkf176 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm 22, and lifted roughly 3 times a week from around 17-21. Through dead lifting (and probably squatting) with bad form, I have developed chronic lower back pain (right at the bottom of my back above my ass/on the pantline on the left and right) for the past 1-1.5 years at a pain of around 4/10, sometimes flaring. It sometimes jumps up my back (never down my legs) and I find it difficult to sit without any back support (e.g. sitting on the bed), and I have to sleep in certain positions so it doesn't hurt. Recently I get neck aches as well but I don't know if that's caused by the same lower back pain.

    The Doctor said it's my lumbar facet joints, specifically the muscles around the facet joints which have tightened to protect the joint after inflammation, and that 6-8 weeks of PT should sort it. Until I start with PT, I want to stay active and keep going to the gym/playing sport without aggravating the situation. I play basketball and football, and have noticed that I have to be extra careful, stretch more before, not over exert and not land after jumping with straight knees.

    In terms of the gym, what exercises can I do that will help with the recovery and keep me fit? I've been doing these exercises ('20 Min Lower Back Rehab - Lower Back Stretches for Lower Back Pain Exercises Workouts - Low Back' on Youtube) once every 2 days for the past 3 weeks to stretch and improve lower back strength.. It's too early to tell if it's working, but it does provide a little temporary relief. I don't touch weights anymore, the only exercises I do are pullups, dips, pushups, and I'm trying to add planks. I tried hanging leg raises to help with my core but this aggravated the pain (a quick google tells me it's to do with hip flexors?). I keep reading that hyperextensions are good, but they make the pain worse. With cardio, I used to run/jog, but I now stick to the elliptical and cycling mostly, and only occasionally go running.

    Is it ok to do the exercises I currently do (They don't really affect my lower back), and are there any I could add? Or is it best to stick to the stretches until PT?

    Anyone else with similar issues, did PT make a big difference? Reading some of the facet joint threads here is a little disheartening, but those guys seem to have more developed problems than mine. It's definitely significant pain, but the Doc said that PT should fix the issue... I just find this a little unrealistic that an issue I've had for over a year could be fixed in 8 weeks...
    I feel like I'm going mad with this pain. I've got facet joint pain at l4 l5. Having physio, which just isn't providing relief. Also PT. Having stopped crossfit, after squatting (loaded and not) aggravated it. Was told doing weight training on glutes that weren't activating and with tight hip flexors all from sitting all day, had caused back issues. I'm now slowly working on core strength and stability, the tiniest weights you've ever seen, and the eliptical which is boring as hell. Oh and cycling which i love. I just hope that eventually the issue with facet joints will just go away. I've had it for 3 years!!
    Read a post which said not be afraid to move back. I'm discovering this, that the more you protect it, the worse it is. But it just hurts so damn much. Also get the sensation that I've pulled glute muscle when i have flare up.
    Has anyone tried pilates?
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    Registered User cox038's Avatar
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    Hi, your post is really helpful. Please can you clarify, is working on core a good thing or not? Is there something else i should be doing?
    Thanks.
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    Just wondering if your pain is better now? Saw you posted back in October. I’m currently doing PT for facet syndrome l3-S1
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    Is your pain better now? I’m currently doing PT for facet syndrome L3-S1. 3 weeks in but still have pain
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    Originally Posted by nkf176 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm 22, and lifted roughly 3 times a week from around 17-21. Through dead lifting (and probably squatting) with bad form, I have developed chronic lower back pain (right at the bottom of my back above my ass/on the pantline on the left and right) for the past 1-1.5 years at a pain of around 4/10, sometimes flaring. It sometimes jumps up my back (never down my legs) and I find it difficult to sit without any back support (e.g. sitting on the bed), and I have to sleep in certain positions so it doesn't hurt. Recently I get neck aches as well but I don't know if that's caused by the same lower back pain.

    The Doctor said it's my lumbar facet joints, specifically the muscles around the facet joints which have tightened to protect the joint after inflammation, and that 6-8 weeks of PT should sort it. Until I start with PT, I want to stay active and keep going to the gym/playing sport without aggravating the situation. I play basketball and football, and have noticed that I have to be extra careful, stretch more before, not over exert and not land after jumping with straight knees.

    In terms of the gym, what exercises can I do that will help with the recovery and keep me fit? I've been doing these exercises ('20 Min Lower Back Rehab - Lower Back Stretches for Lower Back Pain Exercises Workouts - Low Back' on Youtube) once every 2 days for the past 3 weeks to stretch and improve lower back strength.. It's too early to tell if it's working, but it does provide a little temporary relief. I don't touch weights anymore, the only exercises I do are pullups, dips, pushups, and I'm trying to add planks. I tried hanging leg raises to help with my core but this aggravated the pain (a quick google tells me it's to do with hip flexors?). I keep reading that hyperextensions are good, but they make the pain worse. With cardio, I used to run/jog, but I now stick to the elliptical and cycling mostly, and only occasionally go running.

    Is it ok to do the exercises I currently do (They don't really affect my lower back), and are there any I could add? Or is it best to stick to the stretches until PT?

    Anyone else with similar issues, did PT make a big difference? Reading some of the facet joint threads here is a little disheartening, but those guys seem to have more developed problems than mine. It's definitely significant pain, but the Doc said that PT should fix the issue... I just find this a little unrealistic that an issue I've had for over a year could be fixed in 8 weeks...

    I just thought I would ask how your training is going? I’m going through the same thing we’re my L5 facet is done, so I would be wearing it down, been training at gym for the last 10years I’m not 36 pain is 4/10 and when back goes into spasms it’s 9/10 and can’t move.
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