Medial Branch Blocks
A medial branch block injection is intended to alleviate pain caused by medial branch nerves that are attached to the facet joints of the spine. Medial branch nerve pain is another potential source of pain caused by conditions like facet joint syndrome.
Each vertebra has two sets of facets joints, and each facet joint is connected to two medial nerves. Medial nerves, which carry pain signals to the brain, can suffer inflammation, excessive pressure or be otherwise negatively affected by problem with the facet joints.
Healthy facet joints allow a wide range of motion. The cartilage and lubricating cap of the facet joints can be degraded over time or be damaged by traumatic events like car accident injuries. The medial nerves can be negatively affected by damage to the facet joints, which is why they are often the target of medial branch block injections.
The goal of medial branch block injections is to numb the pain with carefully targeted medicine. Your Non-Surgical Orthopaedic doctor may administer injections to several medial branch nerves to determine which ones are causing your chronic pain. Your orthopaedic doctor will know they’ve identified the right nerves when your medial branch block injection soothes the chronic pain you’ve been experiencing.
While a successful diagnostic medial branch block injection does offer temporary relief for patients, it will need to be followed up with injections designed to offer more long-lasting relief.
The Medial Branch Block Injection Process
A doctor will first use a local anesthetic to numb the tissue around the targeted injection site. Fluoroscopy is then used to guide a needle to the medial branch nerve. Your doctor may inject a contrast dye to ensure the needle is properly positioned next to the medial branch nerves.
The doctor will then inject the anesthetizing medicine directly on the nerves to temporarily block the pain signals they are sending to the brain.
When the problem nerves are accurately targeted, patients can experience immediate relief from pain. More than one injection may be necessary to accomplish complete and long-lasting relief, but the first successful injection should provide at least a few hours of pain relief.
You may be suffering pain caused by several different medial branch nerves on your spine, in which case your doctor may need to perform several sets of medial branch block injections to identify all the problem spots.
A doctor will monitor you and your injection site for a short period of time following the procedure. They will also ask that you continue to monitor your levels of pain after returning home. If this form of treatment is successful, the doctor can prescribe alternative pain management options for longer lasting relief.
Medial branch block injections are an important tool for diagnosing pain caused by damaged facet joints and irritated medial branch nerves. You can learn more about medial branch block injections by calling 770-421-1420 to schedule a consultation with one of our Marietta and Carrollton doctors at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics.