What is a medial branch block?
A medial branch block is a diagnostic procedure that targets pain caused by arthritis and degeneration in your facet joints that can cause irritation to your medial branch nerves. These irritated nerves can result in localized pain along your spine. Medial branch blocks can be performed in your cervical spine, thoracic spine, or lumbar spine.
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Who is a candidate for a medial branch block?
Patients that have a history of localized pain in their neck, mid-back, or low back that haven't responded to conservative treatments may be a candidate for medial branch blocks. Medial branch blocks are done as a diagnostic procedure to determine if your facet joints/medial branch nerves are the source of your pain and to determine if you would be a good candidate for a radiofrequency ablation. During your first consultation your physician will take a detailed history, perform a physical exam, and review any diagnostic imaging to determine if this procedure is right for you.
How is a medial branch block performed?
All medial branch blocks can be performed in our in-office procedure suite and can be offered with conscious sedation. During the procedure your physician will use fluoroscopic (X-Ray) guidance to target the specific facet joints in your back that correspond to where you have pain. A needle is then placed near these facet joints and in close proximity to your medial branch nerves, and once placement is confirmed with x-ray, a mixture of fast acting and long acting local anesthetics are injected around the nerve. The fast acting local anesthetic, lidocaine, is used to provide immediate pain relief and makes the procedure more comfortable. The long acting local anesthetic, bupivacaine, is used to provide several hours of pain relief. These procedures are used to determine if you are a candidate for a radiofrequency ablation, so the relief is only meant to be temporary. Often, for insurance purposes, this procedure is repeated a second time to confirm the correct spinal levels and that the patient experiences relief in their pain before proceeding with the radiofrequency ablation.The procedure takes around 30 minutes and has no downtime. Patients who receive sedation for their procedure will need to recover in our recovery room for 20-30 minutes before being discharged.
If you are experiencing localized pain in your spine and want to explore diagnostic medial branch blocks, please contact our office located in midtown Manhattan to book your consultation today!