Joint instability

Zygapophysial joint

A zygapophysial joint (zygapophyseal, or facet joint) is a synovial joint between the superior articular process of one vertebra and the inferior articular process of the vertebra directly above it. There are two facet joints in each spinal motion segment.

The biomechanical function of each pair of facet joints is to guide and limit movement of the spinal motion segment. In the lumbar spine, for example, the zygapophysial joints prevent rotation in the transverse plane, whilst allowing sagittal rotation (flexion and extension) and a small amount of frontal rotation (lateral bending). These functions can be disrupted by degeneration, dislocation, fracture, instability from trauma, osteoarthritis, and surgery.

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