What are facet joint injections and medial branch blocks?
Facet joint injections and medial branch blocks can both provide fast-acting relief from back pain and neck pain without surgery. The two procedures are similar, but with some key differences:
Facet joint injections
Facet joints are small joints that connect the vertebrae and allow a great degree of flexibility in your spine. A facet joint injection delivers a local anesthetic, or numbing agent, and steroid medication directly into one of these joints.
Medial branch blocks
A medial branch block involves an anesthetic that may or may not include a steroid. This injection delivers the medication to the nerve that runs to the joint, called the medial branch.
Why would I need a facet joint or medial branch block?
Dr. Andrews uses facet joint and medial branch blocks for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. He may recommend one of these injections if you have back pain or neck pain due to damaged facet joints, known as facet syndrome. Many things can cause facet syndrome, including injuries, overuse, and arthritis.
Facet joint and medial branch blocks can be diagnostic because they reveal important information about the source of your pain. If the pain doesn’t go away after an injection, it’s a sign that a problem with that facet joint isn’t the underlying cause.
However, if you experience pain relief for several days after the block, then Dr. Andrews knows the precise area where your pain originates. Depending on whether your pain relief is long-term or short-term, Dr. Andrews may recommend repeat injections or another procedure like radiofrequency ablation.
What happens during a facet or medial branch block procedure?
Dr. Andrews performs facet joint and medial branch blocks as an in-office procedure. He uses a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the injection to the appropriate location. The process takes 5-15 minutes.
The anesthetic’s numbing effects cause immediate pain relief when delivered to a painful facet joint. Individual results vary, but many people experience several months of pain relief from a successful facet or medial branch block.
To learn how a facet or medial branch block can help relieve your pain, call No Pain or book an appointment online today.