Sixteen adult human lumbar spine facet joints were harvested from patients undergoing various lumbar spine procedures. Diagnoses included degenerative disc disease, adult spinal deformity, facet joint degenerative arthritis, and degenerative spondylolisthesis. Facet joints were processed for routine hematoxylin and eosin staining. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed using a monoclonal antibody to substance P. All facets grossly exhibited evidence of degenerative disease, including cartilage surface irregularity and fibrillation. Histological examination of facets obtained from patients with degenerative spinal conditions demonstrated erosion channels extending through the subchondral bone and calcified cartilage into the articular cartilage. Immunostaining showed the presence of substance P-positive nerve fibers within these erosion channels, and also within marrow spaces. The presence of substance P nerve fibers within subchondral bone of degenerative lumbar facet joints implicates this type of joint in the etiology of low back pain.