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Medial Branch Block

What is a Medial Branch Block? 

A medial branch block is a minimally invasive injection procedure used to help diagnose and provide temporary relief for pain originating from the facet joints in the spine. The injection targets the medial branch nerves, which transmit pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. 

How is a Medial Branch Block Performed? 

To perform a medial branch block: 

  1. 1. The patient’s skin and underlying tissues are numbed with a local anesthetic injection. 
  2. 2. Using fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance, the physician carefully inserts a thin needle through the numbed area and directs it towards the target medial branch nerves. 
  3. 3. A contrast dye may be injected to confirm the needle is positioned correctly near the nerves. 
  4. 4. The physician then injects a local anesthetic medication onto the medial branch nerves to temporarily numb them. 

What Supplies and Medications are Used for a Medial Branch Block? 

The key components for a medial branch block include: 

  • – Local anesthetic (e.g. lidocaine) to numb the injection site 
  • – Fluoroscopic imaging equipment to guide needle placement 
  • – Contrast dye (optional) to visualize the target nerve location 
  • – Local anesthetic medication (e.g. bupivacaine) to temporarily block the medial branch nerves 

The specific medications and doses are selected by the physician based on the patient’s condition and treatment goals. 

What to Expect After a Medial Branch Block? 

After the procedure, the patient may experience immediate pain relief as the local anesthetic takes effect. This temporary relief can help the physician determine if the facet joints are the source of the patient’s pain. 

As the anesthetic wears off over the next several hours, the patient’s usual pain may return. The physician will closely monitor the patient’s response and use the results to help guide further treatment recommendations, such as radiofrequency ablation to provide longer-lasting relief. 

Patients should follow their physician’s instructions regarding any activity restrictions and schedule any necessary follow-up appointments. They should report any concerning symptoms, such as increased pain or new neurological deficits, to their healthcare provider. 

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