During this procedure you will lie face down on an X-ray table. The targeted area will be sterilized in order to reduce the possibility of infection.
A pain management specialist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area. This typically stings for 2-5 seconds. The specialist will then advance a needle to the appropriate location using x-ray guidance.
Once the needle is in place, contrast material is used to confirm the location. Once this is determined, your provider will slowly inject a local anesthetic to the intended target. Multiple injections may be necessary depending upon how many joints are involved.
This procedure is an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the same day. After the injections are performed, you will be monitored in a recovery bay for approximately 30 minutes. There, your vital signs will be assessed by a nurse and your pain relief will be documented.
If a side effect from the procedure is seen, a certified medical professional will be on hand to address the issue. If there are no complications after the procedure, discharge instructions will be given to you and you will be asked to keep a record of your pain relief for the next several days.
- Please tell the doctor or staff about any allergies you have including medications, seafood, shellfish, latex, or x-ray dyes.
- Please arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may be given a mildly sedating medication, and it will be unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery until the following day.
- It is important to document your pain relief for the next several hours after your procedure is performed. This will help your doctor determine if the facet joints in your spine are the cause of your back pain.
Medial branch blocks are generally safe injections. There are small risks which include: pain around the injection site, bleeding, and infection. The most commonly reported event after these injections is soreness around the injection sites.
Your pain may be improved immediately after the injection from the local anesthetic, but it is important to keep track of how you feel for the remainder of the day. You will typically undergo this procedure twice in order to accurately determine if your back pain is coming from your facet joints.
If significant pain relief is noticed but the benefit is short-term, another procedure called a radiofrequency ablation may be done which may last months to years in duration.