MEDIAL BRANCH BLOCK
PLANO NECK AND BACK PAIN DOCTOR
Pain Relief & Treatment
The Pain Relief Center administers Medial Branch Blocks for neck and back pain. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What is a Medial Branch Block?
During this procedure, a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is injected near the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joints, which stops the transmission of pain signals from the facet joint. If your pain is reduced and you are able to move your back normally, then the doctor will know which facet joint has been causing your pain. This procedure may be performed as a diagnostic tool or as a therapeutic treatment. It also may include a steroid medication depending on the intent of the pain relief procedure.
The facet joints are part of the bony framework that make up the spine. These joint structures connect the vertebrae to one another, enabling freedom of movement as you bend forward and back. Just like other joints within the body, the facet joints are lined by cartilage, allowing the bones to glide smoothly over one another, along with a capsule surrounding the joint. The medial branch nerves are the small nerves that spread out from the facet joints and carry pain signals from the spine to the brain. Inflamed or irritated facet joints are a common cause of low and mid chronic back pain, as well as neck pain.
How is it done?
A nerve block is used in order to target a specific nerve or group of nerves that may be causing pain. Small amounts of a local anesthetic may be used to numb your skin, as well as temporarily disrupt the pain signals from reaching the brain. The doctor will then insert a thin needle near the medial branch nerve. Fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, may be used to ensure the safe and proper position of the needle. A dye may also be injected to make sure the needle is in the correct spot. Once your physician is sure the needle is correctly placed, the medicine will be injected.
Medial Branch Blocks can also be employed as a non-surgical treatment for arthritis related back and neck pain. Once a diagnostic test has confirmed the source of the pain, an injection that includes a long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic may be administered to the nerve that provides sensation to the facet joint.
What should I expect?
You will be monitored for up to 30 minutes after the injection. On occasion, patients may feel numbness or have a slightly weak or odd feeling in their neck or back for a few hours after the procedure. Before you leave, the clinic will give you discharge instructions as well as a pain diary. Keeping track of your pain helps the doctor know what the next step will be. You may want to check for pain by moving your upper back in ways that hurt before the injection, but do not overdo it. You may feel immediate pain relief and numbness in your back for up to six hours after the injection. This means the medication has reached the right spot.You should be able to return to work the day after the injection, but always check with your doctor. Patients may or may not experience pain relief within the first few hours after the procedure. This depends upon whether or not the medial branch nerves targeted are actually the ones carrying signals for the pain the patient is experiencing. If this ends up being the case, the patient will need to discuss a second trial in order to accurately target the correct nerves.