Each vertebra in the spine is connected by two facet joints, one on each side, which is supplied by the medial branch. For both neck and back pain believed to be originating from these joints, a Medial Branch/Facet Block can be both diagnostic and therapeutic. The injection can confirm whether the facet joint is the source of low back or neck pain and relieve the pain/inflammation by disrupting the pain signal sent to the brain.
Medial Branch/Facet Blocks are used to treat chronic neck or low back pain thought to be caused by facet syndrome or facet joint arthritis.
A medial branch block is a procedure in which an anesthetic is injected near small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint. Typically, several levels, on one or both sides, of the spine are injected in one procedure.
If the patient experiences marked pain relief after the injection, then the facet joint is determined to be the source of the patient's pain.
The procedure is primarily diagnostic, meaning that if the patient has the appropriate duration of pain relief after the Medial Branch/Facet Block, then he or she may be a candidate for a subsequent procedure - called a Medial Branch Radiofrequency Ablation (Rhizotomy)- for longer term pain relief.