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Medial Branch Blocks (Facet) Injections

What is a Medial Branch Nerve?

Bones called vertebrae make up your spine. Each vertebra has facets (flat surfaces) that touch where the vertebrae fit together. These form a structure called a facet joint on each side of the vertebrae. The Medial Branch nerve passes through the facet joints.

What is a Medial Branch Block injection?

One or more facet joints in your back or neck can become inflamed (swollen and irritated) and cause pain. During a facet joint injection, a strong numbing medication is injected into the inflamed joints.

The Procedure

  • The skin at the site of treatment is first cleaned and then numbed with medication.
  • Live x-ray imaging is then used to help the doctor locate the spine and guide the treatment. An x-ray dye is then injected into the treatment area to help achieve a better image.
  • A powerful anesthetic is then injected into the joint, and this procedure is repeated with each injured joint.

After the Procedure?

Most often, you can go home about 10-15 minutes after the procedure. The anesthetic wears off in 1-2 days. When it does, your back or neck may feel more sore than usual. This is normal. The medial branch block has to be done twice, usually 2-4 weeks apart. If relief is experienced both times, the next step will be a Radiofrequency Lesioning also called an Ablation of the medial branch nerve.

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