What is medial branch blocks?
Medial branch blocks have an important place in back pain medicine. Medial branch block is a procedure in which an anesthetic is injected near small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint. Facet joints are small bony projections from one vertebra meeting with similar bony projections from the vertebra above or below. Because of acute and chronic conditions, the facet can become inflamed.
The pain pattern in the neck facet joints include the achiness in the neck, slight radiation across the neck and shoulders, pain with turning the head from side to side or by looking up. For lower back facet joints, the pattern of pain is an achiness in the lower 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.
The goal of this treatment is to have long-term pain relief. It would usually just take an hour, which includes the preparation time and the recovery time.
What happens during a medial branch blocks procedure?
This is usually the procedure for a medial branch blocks treatment:
- There is no need to be admitted to the hospital or the clinic on the day of the surgery.
- You will be lying on your abdomen with a pillow under your abdomen or hips for the procedure.
- An X-ray machine will be used to determine where the doctor will place the needle for your procedure.
- Local anesthetics will be injected on the nerves at supply the facet joint once the correct placement has been established.
- You will be placed on a trolley and taken to recovery after the procedure is completed.
- The pain management doctor will see you before you get discharged so that he or she can have final instructions regarding your medication.