Medial Branch Block

Pain Services

Medial Branch Block

What is a medial branch block?

Medial branch blocks are performed as a diagnostic test to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for a radiofrequency ablation. This procedure is not designed to provide any long-term pain relief, it is purely a diagnostic test. A local anaesthetic is injected at the medial branch bundle of nerves associated with facet joint pain to temporarily block the pain signal from these joints to the brain.  

If the appropriate level of temporary pain relief is achieved from this procedure, radiofrequency ablation can be pursued for long-term pain relief.

Frequently asked questions:

Medial branch block is targeted at blocking the pain signals sent to your brain from the facet joints of your spine.  This is a diagnostic test used to determine effectiveness of a treatment option for long term pain relief (radio frequency ablation therapy).

Once you arrive at the clinic you will be asked to complete a few forms pertaining to the appointment. To allow adequate time for this, please do arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. You may be instructed to change into a gown for your procedure.  


You will be taken back to a private exam room for your procedure. One of our technologists and a Radiologist will review your previous diagnostic imaging, discuss the reason for your referral to Beam Radiology, and explain the details of the recommended pain management treatment.


Communication is very important to Beam, and you will be given opportunity to ask any questions you may have before beginning. You will be asked to lay down on the exam table, face down, and your back will be exposed. The targeted area will be cleaned and sterilized. To ensure effectiveness and accuracy, fluoroscopy will be used in real-time to guide the injection. Fluoroscopy is a type of X-ray imaging. The Radiologist will inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area, followed by a small amount of corticosteroid (medication) into the facet joint.  


Following your injection, you will be directed to our recovery area for a 30-minute observation period. Because this is a diagnostic only exam you will be provided a journal to document your pain score over the course of the next few hours. One of our Nurses will review the post-procedure care with you prior to you leaving. You will not be permitted to drive immediately following this procedure, please arrange transportation to and from your appointment. 

If the appropriate level of pain relief is realized from this procedure, the medial branch block treatment is deemed successful. Radiofrequency ablation is then indicated for long-term pain relief. It is important to note that two successful Medial Branch Block treatments are required prior to radiofrequency ablation.

This procedure is performed using a sterile technique, very rare complications include allergic reaction, infection, and bleeding.

Keep the area clean and dry. Avoid hot tubs, pools, or baths for 48 hours. You can shower normally. 

You can perform your normal daily activities but avoid strenuous activities for the next 3-4 days following the treatment.  

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