Medial Branch Block

What You Need to Know

Medial branch blocks are used to diagnose zygapophyseal (facet) joint pain. Pain from facet joints can be relieved temporarily by injection of a local anesthetic close to nerves that provide pain sensation to the facet joints. This procedure is performed under X-ray with patients lying on their stomachs for the lumbar and thoracic regions or their stomachs or sides for the cervical region. These diagnostic injections generally last two to six hours and are performed on two separate occasions to confirm the accuracy of the results. Patients are asked to resume their normal activity immediately after the injections. If the patient experiences significant relief in both instances in that two to six hour period, the patient may be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation, which can provide relief for a period of six months to a year.

What to expect

This procedure is performed under X-ray with patients lying on their stomachs for the lumbar and thoracic regions or their stomachs or sides for the cervical region. These diagnostic injections generally last two to six hours and are performed on two separate occasions to confirm the accuracy of the results. Patients are asked to resume their normal activity immediately after the injections. If the patient experiences significant relief in both instances in that two to six hour period, the patient may be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation, which can provide relief for a period of six months to a year.

Recovery

This is a same day procedure and patients can resume their full activity level the following day.