30 Dec Facet vs. Medial Branch Blocks
There are a few types of blocks available at Integrated Pain Consultants, so how can you understand the differences between them? Two of the most common are facet blocks and medial branch blocks. A facet block is an injection of anesthetic combined with a steroid into a spinal joint. A medial branch block is pretty similar, except the medication is injected outside the joint and closer to nerves (the medial branch nerves). In medial branch blocks, a steroid may or may not be used.
Both of these types of blocks are often used in patients who struggle with pain in the back, often caused by arthritis and/or mechanical lower back pain. Multiple injections may be required based on how many joints are affected. Plus, blocks can be diagnostic, therapeutic, or both. These techniques can be used as a diagnostic tool since a block can tell your pain doctor whether the pain is coming from the blocked facet joint. In other words, if the pain doesn’t go away after the block is placed then it rules out the facet joint as the possible cause.
Using Block Injections
If the pain does go away after an injection (and persists after a few days), then blocks can also have a therapeutic value. An injection is much less invasive and more affordable than something like back surgery. These injections can be repeated and oftentimes combined with other therapies to maximize relief.
There are few possible side effects with these injections. Allergic reactions, bleeding, and infections (rare) are some possibilities. Weakness and numbness can also occur for a short period of time if the anesthetic spreads to nearby nerves. Of course, some minor localized pain may also be experienced, just like with any injection. As you can imagine, the possible side effects of a block injection are well worth it to diagnose or even treat your back pain.
If you’re ready to determine what’s causing your back pain or even minimize it in seconds, a sympathetic block, facet block, or medial branch block could be for you. Schedule a detailed consultation or book your appointment online or by calling (480) 626-2552.