What is a Medial Branch Block?
The Medial Branch nerves are nerves that carry sensations, including pain, from the facet joints. They also control some of the small muscles near the spine around the facet joint. Medial Branch Blocks are injections that help to determine (diagnose) the cause of your pain by placing numbing medicine over the nerves that we think are causing the pain. Medial Branch Blocks are diagnostic injections only. This means that you probably will not have prolonged pain relief.
If you get relief from your pain, a more permanent procedure (radiofrequency) will be discussed with you. Generally, many patients experiencing pain as described have a marked reduction or elimination of their pain following one or more of these injections. Some patients who have a reduction, but not elimination of their pain may still benefit from a more permanent procedure.
What can you expect during the procedure?
Fluoroscopy (X-Ray) and contrast dye, if you are not allergic to it, will be used to help guide the needle(s) to the correct position. The procedure is performed under aseptic (sterile) conditions. If you would like a sedative to help you relax for the procedure, an intravenous needle will be placed by the nurses at the Pain Clinic. You can’t be totally “asleep” for this procedure. If you are receiving sedation, your vital signs will be watched with several monitors for your safety.
What can you expect after the procedure?
You will be discharged 30-60 minutes after the procedure. If sedated during your procedure, you will need someone to drive you home, as you may be drowsy from the medications. Further, you are restricted from driving any automobile or motorized/mechanized vehicle that day or from operating heavy machinery/equipment of any type that day. Even if you have not had sedation, you should not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds or do any type of strenuous work that day.
We will give you paperwork to fill out to log how you are feeling after the procedure. This is very important as it will help you keep track of how your pain responds to the medicine.