Medial Branch Blocks
- A medial branch block (or MBB) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure where a strong local anesthetic is injected on the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joints. A facet joint is a joint that connects one vertebra (bone of the spine) to another. Sometimes, the facet joint becomes inflamed, causing pain.
- A MBB works by reducing inflammation and irritation in the facet joints that are causing the pain. A needle is placed over the nerve that provides sensation to the facet joint, which is the medial branch. The injection includes a local anesthetic and long-lasting steroid. The anesthetic numbs the pain and the steroid reduces the inflammation and irritation.
- MBBs cause rapid relief of symptoms, where most patients can resume their normal daily activities. Another benefit is that once an MBB is done, doctors can see if the pain is coming from the joint itself. If the pain disappears with the injection, it is clear the pain originates from the joint.
- It is important to note that MBBs cause short term relief caused by the local anesthetic, and pain relief should only be expected to last around six hours. The benefit of a MBB is that once two are successfully done and shown to cause pain relief in the patient, a radiofrequency ablation can be performed that will cause more long term relief.