Joint Dysfunction

In the thoracic spine anatomy, vertebrae connects to another vertebra with the support of joints that are of two types. These are central discs and the facet joints present on either side of the spine. The facet joints in the thoracic spine consist of smooth cartilage which lies between the joint surfaces that are bony. These joints are responsible for protecting or cushioning the destructible impact that one bone can have on the other. They are also responsible for supporting not only body weight but they also enable movement of the spine.  Joint dysfunction occurs when a breakdown in the thoracic facet joints occur.


Joint DysfunctionFacet joint dysfunction or sprain is a spinal condition that causes thoracic back pain and is generally characterized by the wear, tear and damage of connective tissue that includes cartilage, ligaments and joint capsule which usually takes place in the facet joints present in the upper back. When these facet joints are restricted or have excessive motion then there is always possibility of dysfunction and pain. The symptoms of joint dysfunction include:

  • Thoracic back pain
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Discomfort when performing physical activities like twisting, bending, stretching the back in activities like golfing

The causes for joint dysfunction are different and many, like spinal trauma or sitting for long period of time in the same position with limited motion, which usually happens when a person sits in front of a computer for long period of time.


Preventing joint dysfunction includes keeping a good posture and taking up treatment options like physical therapy. For joint dysfunction, physical therapist goes for an experience momentum program that includes a thorough evaluation of the mobility and stability of the upper back as well as a full body examination to understand the imbalances of the muscles that may be playing a contributing role in inflaming your symptoms.

Doctors and specialist may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications so that the patient gets relief from his symptoms and respond better to exercises and physical therapy programs.