The spine is composed of a rich network of bones, ligaments, nerves, and overlying muscle.  It’s remarkable complexity is truly a marvel.  The spine provides the primary upright support in the upper body and carries within the core of it’s bones the spinal cord and related nerve roots which give energy, to the muscles of the body.  Each of the vertebral bodies which along with tough discs make up the spine connect to the bone above and below via small articular processes (bony outcroppings).  The bone from above and below create a “facet joint.” The facet joints then are the small overlapping joints in the spine.  They help keep the spine from excessive rotation and flexion/extension that would otherwise put the spine at risk of injury.  As the discs dry out over time and with certain activities such as excessive spinal extension in gymnastics or with a topspin tennis serve, the facet joints come into greater contact.  As the bones come more into contact they develop bony irritation and this leads to arthritis….or bony irritation.  This spine arthritis can be painful especially with prolonged sitting or extending of the spine.  The good news is that adequate strength within the muscles surrounding the spine and gentle stretching etc can often help reduce pain and improve function.  If needed other therapies and modalities such as electro-acuupuncture and injections can help reduce pain.
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