Medial branch blocks are injected in order to target the medial branch nerves. These nerves supply the facet joints that are located between each vertebrae.
Medial branch blocks may be performed in cases of:
- Inflamed facet joints
- Back and neck pain due to arthritis
How it Works
During the procedure, a long acting local anesthetic and a long lasting steroid are injected using x-ray imaging as guidance. Small needles are placed to provide an injection along each nerve. The injection works by reducing inflammation of facet joints that cause pain. The procedure can also be diagnostic and utilized in order to pinpoint a problem. Medial branch blocks are typically performed in one region—lumbar, thoracic, or cervical.
Medial branch blocks can open up the door to a more permanent solution called radiofrequency ablation if they are found to be helpful in reducing pain.
What to Expect
The injection takes less than 15 minutes. You will likely notice immediate relief from the anesthetic, and more long term relief in the next day or two from the steroid. You might experience temporary pain or redness at the injection site. More serious side effects, like infection, are rare. You will be able to return to work the next day.