A medial branch block may be helpful for people who are experiencing facet joint syndrome symptoms as the result of injury or arthritis. During this procedure, a small amount of anesthetic medication is injected into your body close to the medial nerves. If you experience pain relief, you could be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation, which is a procedure that can provide more long-term pain relief.
How Does a Medial Branch Block Work to Relieve Facet Joint Syndrome Symptoms?
Facet joints connect the bones in your spine, giving it the flexibility to move without injury. Facet joints include those in the spine and the neck. People who have facet joint syndrome may experience symptoms such as lower back pain and stiffness, as well as difficulty standing up from a seated position.
Others may experience pain that radiates out from the spine to the buttocks, thighs or neck and shoulders. Your facet joint syndrome symptoms will vary based on the location of your affected facet joints and could range from the lower back to the neck.
A medial branch block may be able to help improve your discomfort. This outpatient procedure allows your physician to essentially numb or “block” the medial branch nerves, which run through the facet joints and supply them with sensation.
While you’ll undergo diagnostic testing to ensure you’re a good candidate for a medial branch block, it’s not certain how effective the procedure will be for your pain. However, it can be an important part of the diagnostic process to pinpoint the origin of your discomfort and to see if the next step, radiofrequency ablation, will work for you.
Who Qualifies for a Medial Branch Block?
Patients who have neck or back pain due to facet joint inflammation and arthritis and have not had success with conventional therapies are typically good candidates for a medial branch block.
Patients may have pain in their neck, shoulders, low back, hips, buttocks or groin area. Medial branch blocks may also be used for sacroiliac joint pain. Your physician will let you know if you qualify based on your diagnostic results.
What to Expect During & After the Procedure
A medial branch block is an outpatient procedure that typically takes about an hour—this will include preparing the injection and recovery time, during which you’ll remain at our facility for observation after the injection.
Your physician will numb the area first, and you’ll feel a pinch and tingling sensation before the numbness takes effect. After this, the procedure will be painless, although you may feel some pressure. For back injections, you’ll be asked to lie on your stomach. For neck injections, you’ll lie on your side.
Your pain may immediately diminish after the injection, although for the majority of patients, the block will only last a few hours or a few days. The procedure will help determine if a radiofrequency ablation could help you with sustainable pain relief.
After the procedure, you’ll need to take it easy, but should still try and do as many of your normal activities as you can. Your physician will discuss specific post-treatment instructions with you during your appointment.
Find Out More During a Consultation!
If you’re experiencing facet joint syndrome symptoms as the result of facet joint inflammation and haven’t experienced relief with medication or other therapies, you could qualify for a medial branch block to help relieve your pain. Find out more during a consultation with Summit Spine & Joint Centers. Call (770) 962-3642 today!