Our interventional pain physician, Dr. Anil K. Sharma, is a leading practitioner of state-of-the-art techniques specializing in the use of minimally-invasive techniques to treat spinal disorders. He has performed over 70,000 spinal procedures in his 27+ years of clinical practice.
A medial branch/facet nerve block is a procedure where an anesthetic is injected near small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint. Typically several levels are injected in one procedure. If the patient experiences marked pain relief immediately after the injection, then the facet joint is determined to be the source of the patient's pain.
- Medial Branch Block
- Facet Nerve Block
How is it Done?
- The patient lies flat on an X-ray table or with a small pillow under their stomach to slightly curve the back or neck.
- The skin in the area is cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic similar to what a dentist uses.
- Using fluoroscopy (live X-ray) for guidance, a needle is inserted into the skin and directed toward the facet joint. Fluoroscopy is considered necessary in guiding the needle and placing it in the correct position.
- Once the needle is in the proper position, contrast may be injected to confirm the needle location, and the spread is noted. The local anesthetic and steroid solution is then injected. Most patients feel some pressure in the back.
Will the injection hurt a lot?
Most people say the stinging/burning of the numbing medicine is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure (this lasts only a few seconds); however, some will need anti-anxiety medication before the procedure. Very few patients will need IV sedation.
How will I feel after the injection?
Your back pain may be improved immediately after the injection as a result of the local anesthetic. It is essential to keep track of how you feel for the rest of the day. We encourage you to move around and do your usual activities. You must keep track of the amount of pain relief you receive as well as how long the pain relief lasts. Your feedback about pain relief after the procedure will guide us in deciding the next step in your treatment.
Learn more about medial branch block by watching an educational video.