What is a Facet Medial Branch Nerve Block Injection?
A facet block is an injection of a local anesthetic and a steroid into a joint in the spine. Similarly, a medial branch block introduces a local anesthetic but is placed outside the joint space closer to the nerve known as the medial branch. These sensitive nerves are connected to the joints and often cause back pain, chronic inflammation, tenderness, and swelling. When the facet joints are damaged, it can reduce the patient’s mobility, increase the medial nerve’s sensitivity, and cause chronic stiffness.
These types of nerve blocks are typically recommended for patients experiencing pain primarily in their back, which is often the result of an arthritic or inflammatory condition. Several joints can be affected simultaneously, and pain levels can range from mild to severe. Patients with multiple affected joints may require more than one injection to be successfully treated.
How Does Medial Branch Nerve Block Work?
Before determining whether this is the right procedure for you, the first step is to perform a physical examination. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and thoroughly review your family and medical history. Once you are successfully cleared, a physician will sterilize the affected area and apply a local anesthetic. The procedure is done using fluoroscopy, a form of X-ray guidance that allows the proper insertion of the needles in the correct location. Once inserted, the needle will deliver the anesthetics and steroids to the impacted joints.
At the end of the procedure, the needle is removed, and bandages are applied at the point of insertion. Your physician will monitor your blood pressure immediately after and might recommend that you avoid strenuous activities for the rest of the day. While many patients report feeling immediate relief after the injection, it is essential to remember that if steroids were used, these might take a few days to take effect. It is also common to experience tenderness in the first couple of days following the procedure but can be helped by applying cold compresses multiple times a day.Request Appointment
Benefits of Medial Branch Nerve Block Injections
This form of treatment can significantly reduce pain, decrease swelling and improve flexibility. Multiple reports have also suggested that nerve blocks could help manage chronic inflammation. During the procedure, our interventional pain specialists inject localized anesthetics and corticosteroids into the facet joints. Once it permeates the soft tissue, the corticosteroids could allow the tissue to heal. Consequently, the injections may prevent additional injuries.
Facet Medial branch nerve block injections can also help experts diagnose a patient. If the nerve block does not alleviate the pain whatsoever, this may indicate that the pain is not coming from the arthritic facet joints. If the pain goes away only temporarily, this would mean that the pain’s origin is most likely the joint, but the steroid is not providing adequate relief. These are very beneficial diagnostic tools for physicians.