Dr. Nikesh Seth focuses on patient safety and health, and Integrated Pain Consultants is home to a variety of alternative therapies including the medial branch block. It’s a local anesthetic injected onto the medial branch nerves, which connect to the facet joints. These joint are also called the zygapophysial joints and help make up the framework of the spine. Tiny, bony projections are found on each vertebra to help connect it to other vertebrae. However, sometimes these joints can get inflamed.
Any area on the spine can have inflammation, but it’s particularly prevalent in the lower back. Symptoms include an ache that radiates to the buttocks or thighs. Standing for long periods and bending can make it worse. Pain can also be found in the neck and presents as an ache that radiates to the shoulders.
Medial branch block injections only take a few minutes. The entire appointment lasts about an hour, and there’s no downtime. The injection is safe, comfortable, and feels like getting any other type of shot. Most patients notice pain relief immediately. Most daily activities can continue right after the injection, but it’s a good idea to take it easy for about 48 hours if possible.
Medial branch block injections only last a few days at most. They are designed to be a diagnostic test to gauge whether the medial branch nerves may be helped by other techniques, such as radiofrequency lesioning. Although the injections may be covered by insurance, as the procedure is a simple injection the out of pocket costs are relatively low.
Getting a medial branch block injection is a fast, affordable, and easy way to find out if you might enjoy relief from other techniques. There are virtually no risks. However, if you take a blood thinner, have an active infection, or are allergic to any ingredients in the injection, medial branch blocks are not for you.