Medial Branch Block
A medial branch block is a diagnostic injection procedure that locates and provides subsequent pain relief to facet joints in the spine causing discomfort. Facet joints are located in between vertebrae and are responsible for bending and twisting the spine. These joints are surrounded by medial branch nerves, which carry pain signals from the spine to the brain. Although the primary purpose of a medial branch block is to diagnose pain caused by damaged facet joints, this minimally invasive procedure can also provide some pain relief.
What is Medial Branch Block?
A medial branch block is a spinal injection that temporarily blocks pain signals from successfully transmitting to your brain, offering you pain relief.
What Types of Pain Does Medial Branch Block Treat?
Neck or back pain caused by damaged facet joints in your spine, also known as Facet Syndrome.
What are facet joints?
Facet joints are located in between vertebrae and are responsible for bending and twisting the spine.
These joints are surrounded by medial branch nerves, which carry pain signals from the spine to the brain.
Over time, facet joints may become worn down from aging, or degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
How Does Medial Branch Block Work?
Although the primary purpose of a medial branch block is to diagnose pain caused by damaged facet joints, this minimally invasive procedure can also provide some pain relief.
Medial nerves run through your facet joints, delivering pain signals to your brain. A steroid is injected into the spine to temporarily block the pain signals being sent from the nerves to your brain.
What Symptoms of Back Pain Should I Watch Out For?
Acute back pain typically lasts up to three months, whereas chronic pain lasts longer. Report all your symptoms to your doctor, especially acute or chronic back pain symptoms such as:
- Muscle ache
- Shooting, stabbing, or dull pain
- Pain radiating toward the neck or down the legs
- Decreased range of motion and flexibility
- Pain reduction with rest or minimal movement
What Symptoms are Common to Neck Problems?
Neck pain can range from tingling or dull aching to sudden or sharp pains that disrupt your normal habits. This pain can also radiate out into other areas, such as your arms.
Make sure to report your symptoms to your doctor, including:
- Difficulty turning your head
- Neck spinal pain, neck pain, or severe neck ache
- Radiating pain to other areas of your body (like your arms)
- Tingling in your arms or fingers
- Numbness in your upper limbs
- Shooting pain in your neck
- Pain in the center back of your neck
Other Conservative Treatments for Back Pain
Other procedures typically performed to treat chronic back pain include:
- Neck Pain Exercises and Stretching
- In order to strengthen the cervical spine and surrounding muscles, exercises and stretching can be implemented, in conjunction with steroid injections if prior pain relief is necessary.
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- For short-term pain relief (typically 3-4 months), steroid injections can be used to treat back and neck pain, and can be combined with physical therapy and exercise for maximum benefit.
- Radiofrequency Ablation (Rhizotomy)
- A minimally invasive procedure in the neck, middle or lower back, that destroys nerve fibers in the back that carry pain signals. It is performed under fluoroscopy (live x-ray).
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
- If other therapies aren’t effective for treating your pain, an implantable pain management device can be an option. These devices administer mild electrical pulses to block the transmission of pain.