Medial branch blocks can be used independently to provide long-term pain relief. They can also be used to precisely identify the facet joints as the cause of pain, and are the preliminary procedure prior to radiofrequency neurotomy of the medial branch nerves. The facet joints are the small joints located between each vertebra that provide the spine with both stability and flexibility. Facet syndrome occurs when one or more of these joints become inflamed or irritated.
Medial branch blocks have been performed safely for many years with excellent outcomes. The benefit from this procedure will typically occur several minutes following the procedure. The patient is asked to record pain levels during the first days of the procedure to ensure accurate diagnosis of the facet joints as the pain source. Medial branch blocks in one area are generally limited to three within a six month time frame. In many instances, only one or two injections are required to obtain benefit.