METHODS: During the annual congress of The European Chiropractors Union (ECU) in 2008, the authors conducted a workshop involving volunteer chiropractors. Topics were decided upon in advance, and the participants were asked to form into groups of four or five. The groups were asked to reach consensus on several topics relating to a basic case of a forty-year old man, where an assumption was made that his pain originated from the facet joints. First, the participants were asked to agree on a maximum of three keywords on each of four topics relating to the presentation of pain: 1. location, 2. severity, 3. aggravating factors, and 4. relieving factors. Second, the groups were asked to agree on three orthopaedic and three chiropractic tests that would aid in diagnosing pain from the facet joints. Finally, they were asked to agree on the number, frequency and duration of chiropractic treatment.
RESULTS: Thirty-four chiropractors from nine European countries participated. They described the characteristics of an acute, uncomplicated facet syndrome as follows: local, ipsilateral pain, occasionally extending into the thigh with pain and decreased range of motion in extension and rotation both standing and sitting. They thought that the pain could be relieved by walking, lying with knees bent, using ice packs and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and aggravated by prolonged standing or resting. They also stated that there would be no signs of neurologic involvement or antalgic posture and no aggravation of pain from sitting, flexion or coughing/sneezing.
CONCLUSION: The chiropractors attending the workshop described the characteristics of an acute, uncomplicated lumbar facet syndrome in much the same way as chronic pain from the facet joints has been described in the literature. Furthermore, the acute, uncomplicated facet syndrome was considered to have an uncomplicated clinical course, responding quickly to spinal manipulative therapy.
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