Medial Branch Block

Facet joints are an important part of the spine. They are essential for its stability. They also allow for side bending and twisting motion.

Like other joints in the body, they are prone to injuries and degenerative changes which result in pain, tenderness and muscle spasms.

Facet joints have a dedicated nerve supply called the medial branches.

Each joint is supplied by 2 nerves. One nerve is located at the same level and a second nerve at the level just above.

Medial branch blocks involve injecting a small amount of local anesthetic (novocaine) in the vicinity of each nerve.

What to expect after the procedure?

You will be asked to keep track of the pain level the first few hours.

We recommend that you try the activities that would cause your pain such as walking up steps, vacuuming/sweeping the floor or mowing the lawn.

When the effects of the local anesthetic wear off, the pain will return and because you have been more active it may be worse than normal.

Overall this is a simple and very safe procedure. It is performed under fluoroscopic guidance and IV sedation.

The following business day, a member of our nursing staff will call you. You will be asked of the degree and duration of the pain relief.

We consider 50% pain relief for several hours as a positive test.

If you had a positive test, we recommend that you undergo the definitive treatment which is known as Radiofrequency Rhizotomy Procedure.

Side Effects

The procedure involves injecting local anesthetic near the spine.

If the medicine reaches any of the major nerves; this may result in numbness and weakness in the area supplied by that nerve.

This weakness will only last few hours. If this occurs to you, we recommend that you limit your acitivities to avoid accidents or falling down.

Any procedure may result in an allergic reaction to the medication. Other risks may be infection, injury or bleeding.