Medial Branch Block
What is a medial branch block?
A medial branch block is a two-step diagnostic and treatment tool. Medial branch block is a procedure in which medication is injected into the facet joints on the spine. During this procedure, multiple injections are often performed at once. If immediate pain relief is realized post-injection treatment, those particular facet joints are deemed to be the source of pain. As this procedure is primarily diagnostic, other treatment often follows.
Meaning, if the appropriate level of pain relief is realized from this procedure, radiofrequency ablation is then prescribed for long-term pain relief. It is important to note that two successful medial branch block treatments are required prior to radiofrequency ablation.
Frequently asked questions:
Medial branch block is targeted at blocking the pain signals sent to your brain from the facet joints on your spine. With successful treatment, back pain can be significantly reduced.
You may be a candidate for medial branch block treatment if you have pain stemming from a facet joint on the spine. Medial branch block treatment is typically recommended for patients where more conservative treatments have been unsuccessful in managing pain.
Prior to your procedure, all medical history is examined, diagnostic images are reviewed to determine the placement of injection, and the procedure is outlined to the patient. Patients that are taking blood thinners or antibiotics may be asked to discontinue prior to treatment. Please consult with your doctor prior to treatment. If the patient has any questions, they are answered at this time.
Once the patient is in a gown and on the operating table, they are given a local anesthetic. While on your stomach, small needles are placed along the facet joints aided with the use of a fluoroscope and the steroid is injected.
As most patients can walk immediately following the procedure and are discharged the same day, please ensure you have arranged for transportation to and from your appointment. Following the observation period post-procedure, patients are usually asked to perform movements that would typically result in pain.
If the appropriate level of pain relief is realized from this procedure, the medial branch block treatment is deemed successful. Radiofrequency ablation is then prescribed for long-term pain relief. It is important to note that two successful Medial Branch Block treatments are required prior to radiofrequency ablation.
As a medial branch block is a relatively safe procedure, minor risks including localized swelling or numbness, nerve pain, infection, or insufficient pain relief.