Zygapophyseal joint

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In anatomy, the zygapophyseal joint (facet joint) is "the joint that occurs between facets of the interior and superior articular processes of adjacent vertebra."[1]

A typical thoracic vertebra, viewed from above.
Sagittal section of a lumbar vertebra.


Osteorthritis of the zygapophyseal joint may be associated with lumbalgia (back pain). Hypertrophy of the facet joint may lead to sciatica.[2]

An underpowered randomized controlled trial found one of 10 patients benefited from corticosteroid injection of the facet joint.[3] However, possibly due to the small size of the trial, this result did not reach statistical significance. Radiofrequency denervation or ablation may be able to reduce pain.[4]


  1. Anonymous (2021), Zygapophyseal Joint (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2. Kulcu DG, Naderi S (2008). "Differential diagnosis of intraspinal and extraspinal non-discogenic sciatica.". J Clin Neurosci 15 (11): 1246-52. DOI:10.1016/j.jocn.2008.01.017. PMID 18789864. Research Blogging.
  3. Carette S, Marcoux S, Truchon R, Grondin C, Gagnon J, Allard Y et al. (1991). "A controlled trial of corticosteroid injections into facet joints for chronic low back pain.". N Engl J Med 325 (14): 1002-7. PMID 1832209.
  4. Niemisto L, Kalso E, Malmivaara A, Seitsalo S, Hurri H (2003). "Radiofrequency denervation for neck and back pain. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD004058. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD004058. PMID 12535508. Research Blogging.