Medial Branch Blocks
A Medial branch block is a procedure that helps to diagnose and relieve back and neck pain from degenerative and painful facet joints. There is a pair of facet joints at each vertebral level which allow movement of the spine and provide stability. The joint has a capsule like a finger joint has and can be affected by arthritis and degenerative changes. The medial branch is a nerve that carries pain signals from the facet joint to the spinal cord and brain. Medial branches are located along the part of the vertebra that is next to the joint. Each joint gives pain signals to the medial branch above and below the joint. Therefore, 2 medial branches should be blocked to stop pain signals from 1 joint.
How Does it Work?
A local anesthetic medication (like novacaine) is injected over 2 medial branches to block the pain signals from 1 joint. If there is pain relief, it suggests that the anesthetized joint is the source of pain. If there is no pain relief, it suggests that there may be a different pain generator accounting for the neck or back pain.