Medial Branch Block
Medial Branch Block
Medial branch nerves are located near facet joints. These nerves transmit pain signals from the facet joints to your brain. Facet joints are located on both sides of your spine to connect the vertebrae. The joints help guide your spine when you move.
For lower back (lumbar) facet joints, you may feel muscle tension to severe pain in the low back, radiating across the lower back and slightly down the back of the buttocks and upper thighs. Usually, standing or bending backward worsens the pain.
For neck (cervical) facet joints, you may feel muscle tension to severe pain in the neck, slight radiation across the neck and shoulders, and worsening symptoms with turning the head from side to side or looking up.
A medial branch block is an outpatient procedure used to diagnose and treat pain associated with facet joint damage.
How does the medial branch block procedure work?
In this procedure, anesthetic is injected near the medial branch nerve to stop pain signals from transmitted from the facet joint. If this reduces your pain and increases normal movement, it helps your doctor diagnose and treat the facet causing the pain.
How long is the recovery time?
This diagnostic procedure takes about an hour. We suggest you move easily the first day of the procedure. Most patients go back to work after treatment and return to full activity the next day.
What are the risks and side effects of a medial branch block procedure?
The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Very rare risks include: infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.
Who should not have this injection?
You should not have this procedure if you are:
- Allergic to any of the medications to be injected
- On a blood thinning medication (e.g. coumadin, injectable heparin)
- Currently battling an active infection
- On anti platelet drugs (ask your doctor if you can temporarily discontinue use before the procedure)