Cervical Lumbar Facet & Medial Branch Blocks
Disorders in the facet joints are one of the most common of all disabling back and neck problems. Left untreated it can cause serious symptoms as well as disability. The cervical facet joints are located in pairs on the back and side of your neck; they provide stability and help guide the motion in your spine. If the joints become painful because of an injury, arthritis, or some kind of mechanical stress, they can cause pain in your head, neck, shoulders, and arms.
What are medial branch nerves and why are medial branch blocks helpful?
The medial branch nerves are small nerve branches that communicate pain in the facet joints. If other pain management techniques haven’t produced any long-term relief, the spine experts at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Spine Center may recommend blocking the medial branch nerves to keep them from sending pain signals from the joints to the brain.
What does this procedure entail?
The procedure begins with an IV with medications that will help to relax you. Once you have had time to relax, you’ll be placed on an X-ray table and positioned so your physician can effectively visualize the bony areas where the medial branch nerves are located.
Before the injections are made, the skin is scrubbed using two different types of sterile scrubs to minimize any chance of infection. Your physician will then numb the area, but don’t worry; it will only sting just a bit. Finally, your doctor will use the X-ray to guide a very small needle into place, near the nerve that is to be tested. To ensure proper placement of the needle, a small amount of dye is injected. It is then followed by the anesthetic that will numb the nerves in that specific region.
What should I expect after the procedure?
After the procedure, your care team will ask you to keep a log of the pain relief you experience on a post-injection evaluation sheet or pain diary, as it is commonly called.
You will not be able to drive on the day of your procedure, so you’ll need to make arrangements accordingly. Additionally, your arms, chest wall, and/or legs may feel weak or numb for a couple hours after you have the procedure. Do not worry – this is entirely normal.
If you experience any post-procedural pain or discomfort (again, this is normal), you can use an over-the-counter medication to relieve the pain. If needed, your doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory. In a couple of weeks, you should notice a significant reduction in the pain you’ve experienced before the procedure at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Spine Center.