Medial Branch Blocks, Types Mansfield TX
Medial branch block is a procedure whereby the medial branch nerves that carry pain signals from the facet joint to the brain are blocked or numbed.
When they are blocked, they are not able to carry pain signals to the brain any longer, hence the patient does not feel pain anymore.
Medial branch block is used as both diagnostic and treatment procedures.
If the patient feels a significant pain relief after the nerve is blocked, then the doctor will know for a fact that the nerve is responsible for the pain.
The patient may then be recommended for a more-lasting pain relief procedure known as medial branch radiofrequency ablation.
Types of medial branch nerves
Medial branch nerves are nerves that carry pain signals from the facet joint to the brain.
The medial branch nerves do not control sensations at the arms, legs or any other major muscles in the body. They are only found around the facet joints at the spine.
Medial branch nerves include:
- Cervical medial branch nerves – These are the medial branch nerves found around the facet joints at the neck region.
The medial branch block of the cervical medial branch nerves is known as cervical medial branch block.
- Thoracic medial branch nerves – These are the medial branch nerves found around the facet joints at the mid-back or upper back.
The medial branch block of the thoracic medial branch nerves is known as thoracic medial branch block.
- Lumbar medial branch nerves – These are the medial branch nerves found around the facet joints at the lower back.
The medial branch block of the lumbar medial branch nerves is known as lumbar medial branch block.
Who is an ideal candidate for a medial branch block?
If you feel chronic pain at your neck, upper, mid or lower back, it may be a sign that you have facet joint pain. The best treatment for you may be a medial branch block.
However, you are not an ideal candidate for the procedure if:
- You are on a blood-thinning medication
- You are allergic to any of the medications that will be used
- You have a blood problem
- You have a disease or infection.
If you have any of these conditions listed above, you can talk with your doctor for medical advice and instructions.
Before the procedure
Before undergoing a medial branch block, you need to first consult with your doctor. Your doctor will examine the area where you feel the pain. You will be asked questions about your medical history.
Inform your doctor if you are on a blood-thinning medication. Also, inform your doctor if you are allergic to any of the medications that will be used during the procedure.
How medial branch block is done
At the commencement of the procedure, you will be asked to lie down on your stomach with your face down.
You will be given an IV line to help you relax and feel more comfortable. The skin at the pain area will be thoroughly cleaned.
Your doctor will then apply an anesthetic which is a numbing agent to numb the skin area where the injection will be injected.
Your doctor will then direct a small hollow needle towards the medial branch nerves responsible for the pain.
With the use of a fluoroscope, your doctor will be able to view the direction of the needle on a monitor connected to the fluoroscope.
When the needle is in the right position, a contrast dye will be applied. The contrast dye helps your doctor to clearly see the area so as to confirm that the medication covers the medial branch nerves.
When this is confirmed, your doctor will then inject a small amount of anesthetic on to each targeted nerve to numb or block the nerve.
The numbed nerves are no longer able to carry pain signals to the brain, causing you to feel relief.
The entire procedure takes about 15 – 30 minutes to be completed.
After the procedure
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be observed for about 20 – 30 minutes.
You will be given a pain diary to record your progress. Other instructions to follow will also be given to you.
You will be able to go back home in a few hours after the procedure.
You need to come to the clinic with someone that will drive you back home because of the aftereffect of the anesthetic used.
You are not allowed to take pain killers within the first 4 – 6 hours after the injection is given.
If you feel pain relief after the anesthetic was injected, it means the medial branch nerves are responsible for the pain.
A medial branch block is not a procedure for a permanent pain relief. It is a diagnostic procedure to know exactly the nerves responsible for the pain.
A medial branch radiofrequency ablation is used for a more long-lasting pain relief.