Tiger Woods has Cervical Facet Syndrome: What is it?

San Francisco Chiropractor Comments:

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has been suffering with severe neck pain ever since he returned to play several months back. In fact, neck and shoulder pain caused him to withdraw from THE PLAYERS Championship.

Tiger and his team thought that he had a bulging disc in the neck, or a herniated disc. However, recent MRI findings reveal an inflamed facet joint. The medical diagnosis for this condition is cervical facet syndrome or facet joint syndrome.

So what is facet joint syndrome anyway?  Here's an excerpt of what the Cleveland Clinic has to say:

Cervical Facet Joint Syndrome
Facet joints occur in pairs at the back of each vertebra. The facet joints link the vertebrae directly above and below to form a working unit that permits movement of the spine. The structure of the facet joint is identical to other joints in the body, such as knees and hips.

The bone surfaces of the facet joints are covered with a specialized tissue called articular cartilage. The joint is lined by a membrane called the synovium and enclosed in a fibrous sac called a joint capsule. A thick liquid (synovial fluid) surrounds the joint, allowing the bones to move without friction.

Facet joint syndrome refers to pain that occurs in the facet joints. This syndrome most often affects the lower back and neck. Lumbar facet syndrome might cause referred pain to the buttocks and thigh. Facet syndrome in the neck might cause headaches or shoulder pain.

What are the symptoms of facet joint syndrome?

Symptoms of facet joint syndrome in the lower back include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the lower back
  • Pain that increases with twisting or arching the body
  • Pain that moves to the buttocks or the back of the thighs — This pain is usually a deep, dull ache.
  • Stiffness or difficulty with certain movements, such as standing up straight or getting up out of a chair

Symptoms of facet joint syndrome in the neck include:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty rotating the head
What causes facet joint syndrome?

There are several possible causes of pain that originates in a facet joint. An injury and/or changes associated with aging might cause the cartilage cushion that covers the bones to wear away, causing pain as the bones of the joint rub together.

In addition, small nerves that branch out from the spinal nerves supply the facet joints. Irritation or pinching of these nerves also can lead to pain. Poor posture, which forces the spine out of alignment, can be a factor in the development of pain from the facet joints. Trauma, inflammation, infection, and disc degeneration are other suggested causes of facet joint pain.

Read full article here

My Take: Facet syndrome is actually fairly common with golfers and many other professional athletes.

We treat quite a bit of facet joint syndrome at Executive Express Chiropractic in San Francisco…as do chiropractors around the world…especially sports oriented chiropractors.  

We use a combination of chiropractic care, deep tissue laser therapy (to reduce inflammation), Active Release Technique (ART), and nonsurgical spinal decompression of the cervical spine.

Drx9000c san francisco

I'm not sure what kind of treatment Tiger Woods has received for his facet joint syndrome, but I would be very surprised if it did not include all of the above.

The problem is the professional golf tour is non-stop…so no matter how state-of-the-art the treatment…you still need to give the body adequate time to recover. Plus, Tiger has been under a lot of mental stress, which can slow down the healing process.

From my own experience, most cervical facet syndrome's do not require surgery or cervical rhizotomy, the nerve deadening procedure.  But, often times professional athletes will do what ever it takes to stay in the game, and deal with the consequences down the road.

However, YOU (the average person) don't have to do this. Most of us have the luxury of being able to rest and recover, such that we don't have to force a treatment that we have to pay for down the road (common in professional sports).

Anyway…hopefully Tiger gets rid of his neck pain and can win a few this year…he is long overdue.

Dr. Eben Davis is clinic director of Executive Express Chiropractic in San Francisco.

Visit Executive Express Chiropractic on Facebook.

Reviews and directions to Executive Express Chiropractic.

New York City Chiropractor Steven Shoshany offers cervical spinal decompression, laser, Active Release Techniques, and Kinesiotaping. He has lots of experience with professional athletes and facet syndrome. I highly recommend him.

Eben Davis

I am a Chiropractor in the San Francisco Financial District specializing in chronic neck, arm and hand pain. I also treat herniated discs using spinal decompression, whiplash, sports injuries, headaches, and Fibromyalgia. My clinic is certified in the use of Deep Tissue Laser Therapy with the LiteCure LCT-1000 for conditions such as shoulder pain, TMJ and Plantar Fasciitis. I have been in practice for over 20 years.

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2 thoughts on “Tiger Woods has Cervical Facet Syndrome: What is it?

  1. Steven Shoshany

    Great article Dr. Davis.Cervical Facet syndrome responds to a combination of Chiropractic care,Spinal decompression and Active release technique (ART) and cold laser therapy.
    Before undergoing a invasive neck surgery be sure to exhaust all non-surgical methods first.
    Keep up the excellent posts!
    http://www.drshoshany.com
    Chiropractor NYC

    Reply

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