Medial Branch Blocks
What are medial branch blocks?
A medial branch block is a type of spinal injection to temporarily block the pain signals coming from the medial nerves. Medial nerves run through the facet joints. Facet joints are joints in your spine that allow for movement between vertebrae. A medial branch block can provide relief, but is mostly used as a diagnostic tool to determine the source of your back pain.
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how does it work?
A medial branch block usually follows these steps:
- Monitoring. Your vitals will be monitored to ensure there are no concerns your doctor should be aware of before the procedure.
- Sedation. Typically, you’ll be given a sedative to calm anxiety and relax muscles.
- Positioned face down or on your side. This will provide the best access for the injection.
- Local anesthesia [ann-ess-TEE-see-uh] administered. This usually causes the most discomfort during the procedure and is described as a mild stinging or burning sensation.
- Injection occurs. This lasts just a few seconds and usually can’t be felt because of the anesthesia.
- Recovery. You’ll be observed for a period of time after the injection to ensure there are no complications.
Risks associated with medial branch blocks
Most injections carry a risk of bleeding or infection, a possibility of allergic reaction, or risk of nerve damage from injection in the wrong location. However, these complications rarely happen.
Short-term side effects of a medial branch block might include some numbness if the injection spreads into the surrounding area. The injection site might also be painful or tender to the touch. Occasionally, patients who receive a medial branch block complain of headaches or insomnia after injection, but these issues should go away in a few days.