FAQ’s on Medial Branch Nerve Block

A Medial Branch Nerve Block is a procedure given to block the pain signals to the brain from the medial branch nerve.

The medial branches of the body are small nerve endings that ‘branch’ off of other nerve roots. These nerve endings encircle the spine to the facet joints, and serve to provide sensation to these.

What are the benefits and what can be expected as a result?

Freedom from chronic pain is the result of a Medial Branch Nerve Block. The goal of this procedure is to help the patient enjoy a higher level of existence by being free of debilitating pain.

The patient can have a reasonable expectation of being able to enjoy activities that they had been limited from doing due to pain.

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is nearly for the same or patient whether it’s a diagnostic medial block, or therapeutic block being performed. The medial block is outpatient procedure performed under local anesthetic, compared to full intravenous sedation is available for those patients who desire it for the therapeutic block.

A sedative is given for relaxation. The area where the needles are inserted is cleansed and then anesthetized.

Using a fluoroscope, the doctor inserts a tiny needle into the injection area. The contrast dye is first injected to assure the affected nerves are being treated; followed by the physician injecting a mixture of anesthetic medications into the nerve area. The actual procedure only takes about ten minutes, but rest is advised afterwards and including the prep time before the procedure, the entire process takes about a half an hour.

How long does the block last?

The diagnostic and therapeutic medical branch blocks, when the needles are positioned correctly, a very effective. The effects of the block may not last long but if there is sufficient relief (80% or more) is felt by the patient, the person may be taken for a longer lasting procedure known as Radio frequency Neurology. It is a procedure where the physician inserts a needle into the nerve area and in effects burns off the nerve with radio waves.

Are there any repercussions of blocking the Medial Nerve Branch?

Very few risks present themselves but the injection site may experience an allergic reaction, discomfort or pain in some rare cases.

Nerve and/or spinal cord damage is a possibility, and paralysis caused by damage from the needle can occur, although it is very rare.

What is treated with Medial Branch Nerve Blocks?

Chronic pain in the spine caused by discs present in-between two consecutive vertebrae if they bulge or herniate, or there is trauma to them. Blocking the Medial Nerve Branch provides temporary relief and helps to decide whther the patient can undergo another procedure called a radiofrequency neurotomy.

How successful are theseblocks for the pain relief?

Effectiveness of the Medial Branch Nerve Block varies from person to person but the patient will certainly experience some pain relief. Studies have shown the average duration of pain relief from a medical branch nerve block is three months! When the pain relief wears off, it can either be repeated or the patient may go on to have a radiofrequency ablation.