Facet joint syndrome is defined as an axial pain caused by trauma (60%) or degeneration, arising from the facet joints (or zygapophyseal joints) and adjacent soft tissue.

Dysfunction (irritation and inflammation of the cervical facet joints) is accompanied by pain in the neck area, which radiates to the occipital area, the scapular belt and the arms down to the elbow. Pain in the mid-back joints is referred to the area between the shoulder blades, radiating to the chest area up to the breastbone.
In addition to local pain in the lumbar region, facet joint syndrome causes pain in the buttock area and hip, and referred pain down the legs to the knee, like sciatica, but without the neurological deficit. It is associated with stiffness first thing in the morning or after prolonged inactivity, and the pain increases with lumbar hyperextension.