TREATMENTS

Medial Branch Block

OVERVIEW

This diagnostic procedure is performed to identify a painful facet joint. The facet joints are the joints between the vertebrae in the spine. They allow the spine to bend, flex and twist.

Medial Branch Block

Medial branch nerves are very small nerve branches that carry the pain message from the facet joints and the muscles around the joints. If the nerves are blocked or numbed, they will not be able to transfer the pain sensation from the joints to the brain. A medial branch block is an injection of a strong local anesthetic on the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joints. The facet joints, also known as the zygapophysial joints, are part of the bony framework of the spine. They are small bony projections from one vertebra meeting with similar bony projections from the vertebra above or below. Sometimes, due to a variety of acute and chronic conditions, the facet joints can become inflamed. For lower back (lumbar) facet joints, the pattern of pain is usually an achiness in the low 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. For neck (cervical) facet joints, the pattern of pain is an achiness in the neck, slight radiation across the neck and shoulders, and worsening symptoms with turning the head from side to side or looking up.

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The patient lies on his/her stomach. The skin of the back is cleaned with antiseptic solution and is injected with local anesthetic, after which the nerve block is performed under X-ray guidance. If the facet joints are the source of pain, you should benefit from the injection immediately. Depending upon the medication injected, the effect can last from 1 hour to 6 hours or more

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