Facet joints, which are joints in the spine, may become damaged from age or trauma and arthritis can develop. The medial branch nerve provides sensation to the facet joint and this procedure is used to determine whether a specific facet joint is the source of abdominal pain. Facet joint pain is not restricted to abdominal and/or back pain however; and may radiate into the hips, buttocks, and posterior thighs. The presence of arthritis or facet hypertrophy, meaning increased joint size, does not always mean it is the cause of low back pain. Medial Branch Nerve Injections can help alleviate this pain.
How are Medial Branch Nerve Injections Performed?
Before the procedure, patients have the option of being given a mild sedative. Most patients do not need anesthesia, or twilight, because the needles are very small. The skin area is numbed using a local anesthetic and the needle is guided into the proper area of the spine with fluoroscopy, or real-time x-ray. Once the needle is positioned near the median nerve, a combination of anesthetics is injected into the medial region.
What should be expected?
A medial branch nerve root block is performed to confirm that a facet joint is the source of pain. While the nerve block is diagnostic, it may be therapeutic providing pain relief. Depending on the number of spinal levels injected, the entire procedure is over in approximately 10 minutes. Patients may experience minor discomfort after the procedure, which is considered normal. It can take up to 48-72 hours for the steroid to go into effect.
If you need an evaluation or consultation or are interested in this treatement, please contact us at (201) 729-0001 and ask for one of our specialists. Our conveniently located clinics are in West Orange, Aberdeen, Lyndhurst, and Fort Lee. We offer weekday and weekend appointments.