What Is a Medial Branch Block and How Does It Work?

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What Is a Medial Branch Block and How Does It Work?

Injury or trauma on facet joints in the neck and back may account for 45% of pain experienced by adults in the United States. It is important that specialists understand how to treat this pain effectively and quickly to restore balance to the lives of their patients.

Watch A Medial Branch Block – Performed Live!

One such treatment is a medial branch block which is a targeted procedure that injects a painkilling compound directly into the affected nerve. This procedure is typically performed in an outpatient capacity and is considered a non-invasive alternative to surgery and can also be used to diagnose affected joints in order to pursue more advanced options of pain management.

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about medial branch blocks, should you and your pain specialist decide to use this procedure for your pain:

  • How long does it take? The procedure itself only takes a few minutes but patients should plan for an hour for the pre-procedure prep and recovery observation for a short period of time after the injection.
  • Does it hurt? A local anesthetic will be injected to numb the area around the block. This will involve a small needle and you may feel a prick and a burning sensation before the medication begins working, however, there is normally little pain associated with the procedure.
  • Can I be sedated? If you are concerned about discomfort or anxiety during the treatment, you may elect to be sedated for the procedure. If you do choose to use a sedative the appointment will take longer and you will need to make sure you have a driver and caretaker once you are home.
  • How long will it last? Medial branch blocks often only last for a short amount of time, however, they are often used to diagnose affected areas that will then be treated with other longer lasting interventional procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation or epidural steroid injections.
  • What are the side effects? Any medical procedure comes with risks and patients should educate themselves to be aware. Side effects are minimal with medial branch blocks but some rare occurrences can include bleeding, nerve damage, and infection.

Are you interested in pursuing a medial branch block as part of your pain treatment plan?

Image by oddmenout via Flickr


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About the Author:

Nevada Pain
At Nevada Pain we believe that patient knowledge is a key component of any comprehensive treatment plan. It's one of our core guiding principles. By understanding the procedures for acute and chronic pain conditions that we treat, patients can make better informed decisions and choices for their own treatment plans. In our Inside Pain blog, we present accessible tips and tricks to incorporate into your own healthy lifestyle to help you manage and improve your current levels of pain.

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