Do you have pain in your neck that sometimes radiates into your shoulder, shoulder blade or mid back? This pain could be due to irritation of the joints in the spinal joints of the neck, called cervical facet joints. 

It is estimated that 26-65% of neck complaints may have a cervical facet component.

Neck Pain

What is cervical facet pain? 

A facet is a synovial joint between the top of one vertebra and the bottom of the vertebra directly above it.  There are two in each spinal segment, one on the right, one on the left, and they assist in transferring weight and guiding movement in the spine. 

Facet irritation or damage to the facet in the cervical (neck) spine may cause head and neck pain or may refer pain into the upper shoulder and back. Facet pain is often localised and can usually be pin pointed. People often report an achy and dull sensation; however, it can be sharp. Headaches and movement restriction are also very common with this injury. 

Facet joint pain is usually worse in positions of extension and rotation, as well as side-bending towards the painful side. 

What can bring on facet joint pain? 

  • Repetitive stress
  • Poor occupational or sleeping posture
  • Whiplash 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Neck sprains or strains 
  • Cervical disc injuries are associated with facet pain in around 40% of cases 

Treatment & Management

Lifestyle changes 

  • Postural adjustments 
  • Pillow modification – come and speak to one of our osteopaths to see what pillow suits you best. 
  • Avoid heavy lifting and quick neck movements initially, until pain has reduced, and movement has restored.

Kamal Pakenham OsteopathyOsteopathic treatment – aimed at decreasing pain and increasing movement.

  • Neck, mid back and shoulder massage 
  • Neck and shoulder muscle stretching 
  • Dry needling 
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Joint manipulation 

Exercise rehabilitation 

  • Range of motion exercises in pain free ranges.
  • Isometric strengthening exercises in pain free ranges, then progressing to isotonic exercises as tolerated.
  • Heat: sauna, hot bath/shower, heat pack to promote healing & repair.


  • NSAIDs may be helpful for short term relief – see your GP or pharmacist for advice on prescription & dosage.
  • If pain persists after extensive osteopathic treatment, exercise rehabilitation and lifestyle changes, there are options such as facet injections and platelet rich plasma (PRP) facet injections.

If you are struggling with new or ongoing neck pain, book an appointment with one of our osteopaths who can conduct a full examination, identify potential lifestyle changes specific to you, and provide an individualised treatment and management plan to get you moving without pain.  

Call 5941 4157 today or book an appointment with us online.