Facet/Medial Branch Blocks

A Medial Branch Block (aka Facet Joint Injection) is a simple office based procedure where a small dose of local anesthetic is placed next to the facet joint. This helps identify which facet joints are causing symptoms, and result in:

  • Reduction in pain
  • Increase in function and mobility
  • Improved quality of life

Medial branch blocks and facet injections are common treatment options for patients who experience back pain, neck pain and headaches. These simple injections are administered around facet joints to reduce inflammation and irritation from arthritis pain. The facet joints are located along the spine and connect each vertebra to the next. These joints help support the spine by providing stability and range of motion. They can become painful due to arthritis of the spine, a mechanical injury, or poor posture.

At Acute & Chronic Pain and Spine Center, our board certified pain management specialists are committed to helping you live pain free.  We are in network with most health insurance plans. 

Typical Benefits Of Medial Branch Blocks

  • Stops the pain cycle and produces fast, effective pain relief.
  • Very safe procedure with minimal side effects and no down time.
  • No need to take pain medications that can cause systemic side effects.
  • Outpatient procedure performed in the office and only takes around 10 minutes.

What Is Facet Joint Arthritis?

Patients with facet joint arthritis will typically complain of pain and stiffness in the back or neck.  The pain is usually described as a dull ache around the affected area.  The pain tends not to radiate into the legs or arms.  The pain and stiffness is usually worse first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. The pain is exacerbated with physical activity or bending and twisting.  Sometimes it can be painful to get up from a seated position.

Like other joints in the body, facet joints are covered by cartilage that allows the bones to move next to each other smoothly without friction. When these areas are inflamed, the bones rub against each other, which causes pain.  Arthritis of the facet joints carries multiple names for the same condition, including facet joint arthritis, facet joint arthropathy, and spondylosis.

The Medial Branch Block Procedure

A Medial Branch Block is a simple office based procedure. It typically takes 10 minutes, and there is no downtime after. It can be done with local anesthesia, or intravenous sedation for comfort if desired. It is generally not painful and well tolerated. During a medial branch block, a small needle is inserted next to the involved facet joint with X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy). After proper placement of the needle is confirmed, a local anesthetic is injected through the needle. This will anesthetize the facet joint and block the pain pathway.  This will help identify which facet joint is affected, and results in reduction of pain, increase in function and improved quality of life. Some patients may feel better right away.  Patients may return to work the same day or next day.

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