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Medial Branch Blocks


Medial branch blocks are used to diagnose pain originating from the spinal facet joints. The facet joints are the posterior joints connecting the vertebrae on both sides. Spinal facet joints have been shown to be a source of pain in the neck and back.

The facet joints transmit messages of pain to the brain via the medial branch nerves (Tiny nerves that carry pain signals from the facet joints to the spinal nerves and up the spinal cord to the brain). Medial branch blocks are an outpatient procedure in which a local anesthetic is in injected to block these nerves. If the facet joints are the source of the patient’s pain, they should experience temporary relief from the injection of the anesthetic. Blocking the medial branch nerves is diagnostic, and if the patient experiences temporary relief from the medial branch nerve blocks, then radiofrequency ablation may be performed to offer the patient longer lasting pain relief. Radiofrequency ablation effectively cuts the nerve thereby interfering with the message of pain coming from the affected joint.


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