Medical Branch Block
What are medical branches?
Medial branches are located along the part of the vertebra that is next to the joint. Each joint gives pain signals to the medial branch above and below the joint. A medial branch nerve block is a procedure in which an anesthetic is injected near small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint. If the patient experiences marked pain relief after the injection, then the facet joint is determined to be the source of the patient's pain. The procedure is primarily diagnostic, meaning that if the patient has the appropriate duration of pain relief after the medial branch nerve block, then he or she may be a candidate for a subsequent procedure - called radiofrequencyablation - for longer term pain relief.
What should I expect during medial branch blocks?
During the procedure, the doctor will first clean off the skin and use X-ray guidance to identify the area where the medial branch nerves live. Then, the doctor will numb up the skin with a pinch and a burn at four sites. The doctor then places the needles down to the area where the nerves run and double-checks with more X-rays. Once in satisfactory position, the doctor injects a long-acting numbing medication onto the medial branch nerves.
What should I expect after medial branch blocks?
This is a diagnostic procedure, which means that we are testing to see if it takes away your pain. As such, you will be asked to fill out a pain diary documenting any relief you experience every hour for the first 12 hours after the injection, and also at several time points thereafter. We want you to be active during this time to really test whether or not the injections relieve your pain.