A medial branch block is a direct and non-invasive method of treating and diagnosing pain that originates in the facet joint in the spine. At the start of the procedure the patient lays down on their belly on the x-ray table.
If the patient is sedated the vital signs are closely monitored. The skin in the side of injection is cleaned in the sterile fashion, and a numbing medicine is used to anesthetize the skin. The needles are placed with x-ray guidance down to the place where the medial branch nerves live.
The anesthetic medicine is then injected carefully through each needle in each one of those medial branch nerves and then anesthetize. After the procedure the needles are removed and the patient moves around typically extending their spine they can tell almost immediately if they pain feels better.
If their pain feels better then we decide yes the joints are affected and that’s when we consider a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, which is a much much longer lasting version of this procedure.
After the procedure typically a patient goes to recovery area, they are monitored for about 30 minutes before being discharged home. Most patients experience some relief or instant relief with this procedure. Oftentimes the relief will last just the duration of the local anesthetic, sometimes it will last for days or even weeks.
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