Medial branch nerve block (MBNB) is one of the treatments we utilize for facet syndrome. This syndrome is diagnosed when one or more of your facet joints presents with pain due to inflammation or irritation. MBNB is not a permanent fix. Rather, its purpose is to confirm that the source of back pain is indeed the facet joints.
The procedure has been performed by pain doctors for many years, and it is safe and effective. In most cases, it delivers an excellent outcome. Properly performed injections help isolate the source of pain so the doctors can then recommend a more long-term solution.
Facet joints are the joints that link individual sections of the spinal column. Each vertebra is connected with a facet joint that acts as a hinge of sorts. It is the combination of vertebrae and facet joints that give the spine flexibility. Without facet joints, the spine would be a single, inflexible bone.
Facet joints can be irritated by any number of things. They can also become inflamed just like the joints in your knees, hips, etc. When that happens, patients can experience considerable pain. The difficulty we have in diagnosing the source of such pain is figuring out which joints are causing the problem. This is because facet joint pain can radiate.
In addition, what we might assume is facet syndrome could be something entirely different. Therefore, it is imperative that we identify one or more facet joints as the true source of pain so that we can recommend appropriate treatments.
MBNB works by numbing the medial branch nerves that feed out of the facet joints. When numbed, the nerves cannot send pain signals to the brain. This allows us to use the injections to determine if facet joints are truly the underlying cause of your pain. We select a particular joint we believe is the culprit and perform the MBNB procedure. If your pain is relieved, then we know that this joint is the source of your pain.
MBNB is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes to complete. We begin by injecting a local anesthetic to numb the skin and the tissue directly underneath. Next, a thin needle is inserted at the treatment site and monitored with an imaging device known as a fluoroscope. This device helps us locate the right nerves. We also utilize a contrast dye to ensure we can see the nerves clearly.
Once the nerves have been located and identified, we inject an anesthetic to cover them. The anesthetic goes to work almost immediately, numbing the bathed nerves. Afterward, we monitor you for 20 minutes or so before sending you home. We will ask you to record how you feel as the anesthetic begins to wear off, within the first two hours of receiving the procedure.
That is really all there is to medial branch nerve blocks. Again, this is a safe and effective procedure that pain doctors have been utilizing for many years. If you would like to know more about how the procedure could help identify the source of your back pain, please feel free to contact our Weatherford clinic at your earliest convenience.
At Lone Star Pain Medicine, our number one priority is relieving your pain. MBNBs represent just one of the many tools we have for doing just that. We might be able to use this procedure to identify the source of your pain, thereby allowing us to recommend a long-term treatment.