Aside from the upper cervical spine (C1,C2 ) all other cervical vertebral levels consist of three joints. There is one joint consisting of the intervertebral discs which connect the bodies of the vertebra. There are also two posterior and lateral joints with one on each side called facet joints. The facet joints provide support, stability and facilitate motion of the cervical spine.
Facet joints are synovial joints, which have a smooth shiny contact surfaces called articular cartilage. The articular cartilage allows the bones to slide freely over each other with reduced friction and stress. Each joint is also surrounded by a protective sleeve called a capsule, and is lubricated by synovial fluid. The facet joints can become irritated and inflamed producing pain and dysfunction.
Common conditions of the facet joints include spondylosis, osteoarthritis of the spine, facet joint inflammation, degenerative joint disease of the spine and facet arthropathy.