Medical Branch Block

What is a medial branch block?

A medial branch block is a minimally invasive procedure that temporarily blocks the pain signal from the medial nerve to your brain. The pain management experts at Pacific Sports and Spine perform a medial branch block to find and treat the source of your back pain.

If your procedure is successful and the source of pain confirmed, your provider at Pacific Sports & Spine may recommend a radiofrequency rhizotomy for long-term pain relief. During a radiofrequency rhizotomy, your provider uses radiofrequency energy to ablate (destroy) the medial branch nerve causing your pain.

Medial Branch Block procedure

What does a medical branch block treat?

Medial branch nerves are small nerves that exit your spine through the facet joints. Your cartilage-lined facet joints connect each of your vertebral bones. These moveable joints give you the ability to bend and twist your upper body. Over time, the cartilage that separates these joints wears down, resulting in pain. Your medial nerves carry pain messages from your facet joints to your brain.

Who can benefit from a medial branch block?

You may benefit from this procedure if you have chronic back pain from arthritic changes in your facet joints or mechanical stress on the vertebral column. The team at Pacific Sports & Spine won’t perform a medial branch block if you take blood-thinning medications, you have an active infection, or you’re allergic to any of the drugs administered during the procedure.

What happens during a medial branch block procedure?

A medial branch block is an outpatient procedure that takes 20-30 minutes. The Pacific Sports & Spine team performs the injection using fluoroscopy (X-ray) guidance to ensure accurate placement of the needle and medication. During the procedure, you lie on your stomach on an X-ray table.

Your doctor cleanses the skin with an antibacterial agent and administers a local anesthetic to numb the area. Your doctor inserts a small needle into the medial branch nerve area, injects a contrast dye to confirm location, and slowly administers the medication (an anesthetic and steroid) over the nerves.

After your medial branch block, your pain may go away within a few hours or a few days, or not at all. The Pacific Sports & Spine team determines the next step based on the pain relief you feel within 6-12 hours after your minimally invasive procedure.

Don’t let your chronic back pain keep you from living your life. Call Pacific Sports & Spine or book an appointment.