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Facet Medial Branch Blocks

A facet medial branch nerve block is a diagnostic test injection. It helps determine if pain is coming from the facet joints in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine.

Medial branch nerves can be safely anesthetized or ablated. Risks of complication from this procedure are low and include bleeding, infection, discomfort at the point of injection or nerve damage.

For the procedure, you will lie face down on an X-ray table, and your back is scrubbed with an antibacterial cleanser. Your physician uses an X-ray camera to identify the targets for injection. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin.

Thin needles are placed next to the medial branch nerves. Contrast dye is injected to confirm the medication will go to the correct spot, and then the numbing medication is injected. The procedure usually takes 15 minutes.

Most people feel some immediate relief from the numbing medication. If you get significant relief from this injection, then a radiofrequency ablation may be considered for longer-term pain relief. Most insurance companies require two sets of diagnostic facet medial branch blocks before an ablation is approved.

For a brief educational video, click the link below:

https://www.spine-health.com/video/medial-branch-block-video

The link to this video is for educational purposes only. See disclaimer.

  • Video disclaimer

    The links to the videos on this page are for informational purposes only. The video content is not intended to be professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The links will take you to Veritas Health content. Veritas Health publishes educational health information to help patients better understand symptoms, conditions, and a variety of treatment options. Their content is authored by expert health professionals but does not reflect the opinions of UK HealthCare or our providers. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health. Reliance on the content is solely at your own risk.