This is both a pain-relieving treatment and a diagnostic test used to treat and identify the source of arthritic or mechanical back pain.
Commonly Asked Questions About Medial Branch Block
- What is a Medial Branch Block?
- A Medial Branch Block is the injection of medication next to the nerves causing pain. It does not get injected directly into the affected facet joints, it gets injected near the nerves that supply those joints. It can be diagnostic and/or therapeutic. If the pain doesn’t go away, then the doctor can determine the pain isn’t coming from the blocked facet joints. If the pain goes away for a few hours but comes back, this confirms the facets are indeed causing pain.
- How is it administered?
- After anesthetizing the skin locally, medication is injected by needle outside the painful joint at a spot where a branch of nerves feed the joint.
- How is it beneficial?
- It both relieves pain and helps to diagnose whether the pain is truly coming from the facet.
- Is this procedure painful?
- Most patients say the least comfortable part of the treatment is actually the burning/stinging of the numbing anesthetic (similar to the numbing medication you would get with stitches or a dental procedure), but individual responses vary.
- Are there any risks or side effects involved?
- Besides some pain, other possible side effects or risks may include infection, bleeding, worsening of pain, spinal block, or epidural block.
- What should I do following the procedure?
- Patients may go to work the next day, assuming there are no complications. The treatment is followed up with physical therapy with an emphasis on a home exercise program. Because this treatment additionally functions as a diagnostic test, it’s essential for the patient to note the amount, timing, and length of any pain relief felt. You will be given a pain log to fill out for the two hours immediately following the injection. The treatment may be followed with either more injections or with Radiofrequency Ablation.