Medial Branch Blocks
Medial Branch Blocks (MBBs) are a minimally invasive non-surgical treatment that the Spine & Nerve Centers is pleased to offer its patients. Medial branch nerves are small nerves that branch out from the facet joints in the spine, and this pain management technique works by temporarily interrupting the pain signals from these nerves to the brain.
Medial branch nerves are located near the facet joints, which are pairs of small joints between the vertebrae and the back of the spine. These nerves can be inflamed for a variety of reasons including arthritis or from trauma to the back. The procedure starts with the patient lying face down on a table; the physician injects a local anesthetic to numb the skin near the facet joint. The physician then uses fluoroscopy to help guide a small needle over the medial branch nerves. The injection includes both a long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic which work together to reduce the inflammation and irritation in the facet joints of the spine that is causing the patient’s pain. One of the benefits of MBBs is rapid relief of symptoms. Patients are often able to resume their normal daily activities, which is often not achieved with oral medications and physical therapy.
With minimal risks, MBBs are considered an appropriate and safe non-surgical treatment for many patients who suffer from back and neck pain. The associated risks with this procedure involve misplacement of the needle. In order to prevent this problem, doctors at the Spine & Nerve Centers use fluoroscopy to guide their needle. Potential complications associated with the procedure include bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. The other risks of the MBBs may be directly related to the medication injected. The risks of developing medication side effects are typically much less than in a person taking oral corticosteroids. Some of the potential side effects of corticosteroids include elevated blood sugars, weight gain, arthritis, stomach ulcers, and transient decrease in the immune system. Before receiving a facet injection patients should be assessed by their physician to minimize risks associated with the procedure.
Patients should consult with their pain physician before receiving the procedure if they:
- have an allergy to any anesthetic
- are on blood-thinning medications
- have an active infection
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
Check with your physician to see if the procedure is right for you.
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