Last updated: Nov 18, 2021

Medial Branch Blocks

Back pain has tremendous stopping power. It can stop you in your work, your playtime and your life. When back pain rears its head, go to Redefine Healthcare in New Jersey. One of the many tools in their treatment toolbox, medial branch blocks are used in both diagnostic and treatment procedures. The blocks involve injections of pain medication and an anti-inflammatory drug to ease your back pain immediately and treat the inflammation. When you’re ready to deal with your back pain, call the experts at Redefine Healthcare for an appointment.

If you’ve experienced excruciating lower back pain, upper back pain or pain in the middle of your back, you should see a pain specialist for treatment. Your back pain that worsens with movement may be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. The experts at Redefine Healthcare in New Jersey provide exceptional pain management services to eliminate or reduce your suffering.

A medial branch block is one of the most effective treatments for back pain that’s caused by a damaged or inflamed facet joint. Your facet joints support your vertebrae. Medial branch blocks use pain-relieving injections as part of spinal pain management. You must rely on a doctor with experience and expertise for the procedure, like those at Redefine Healthcare, to ensure success.
Medial Branch Blocks
The Purpose of Facet Joints

Facet joints are present in every section of your spine. They help you accomplish everyday tasks and activities. Facet joints’ primary purposes are to:

  • Connect the bones of your spine
  • Allow your spine to bend and twist, while also restricting unwanted extension
  • Provide the space for nerves to pass from your spinal cord to other parts of your body
  • Facilitate smooth movement in your vertebrae due to its cartilage lining that’s well-lubricated by synovial fluid

If the facet joints suffer any form of injury, you experience debilitating pain. The doctors at the New Jersey pain management practice personalize your treatment plan based on the diagnosis. For facet joint pain and facet joint syndrome, the NJ pain management team only recommends medial branch blocks after a thorough examination, a medical history, imaging tests and other cutting-edge diagnostic tools.

Facet Joint Syndrome Symptoms

With age, the connecting soft tissues in your back deteriorate, which can lead to pain and inflammation in your back. The medial branch nerves that extend out from the facet joints become compromised. The symptoms affect different parts of your spine, depending on the facet joints affected. Signs that you’re a candidate for a media branch block include:

  • Shoulder pain when moving your arms
  • Neck pain that’s particularly bothersome when you move your head
  • Lower back pain, which may be worse at the end of the day
  • A localized dull ache that stays with you throughout the day
  • Radiating pain to other parts of your body
  • Referred pain from your back to your buttocks and/or thighs
  • Intensifying pain with motion of any kind
  • A restricted range of motion
  • Tenderness in the affected area
  • Stiffness when you stand up straight

You may experience pain in multiple locations due to facet joint inflammation. Your New Jersey pain management doctor locates and treats each area with the medial branch block injections.

Conditions Treated by a Medial Branch Block

In addition to common aging spine degeneration, facet joints cause pain symptoms if you‘ve been injured in an accident or received a sports injury. Swelling and inflammation due to genetic disposition, poor movement mechanics or improper training techniques also can lead to facet joint pain.

Other conditions that can cause facet joint pain and may be treated with a medial branch block include:

Medial Branch Block Treatment

A medial branch block consists of a combination of an anesthetic and steroid medication injected directly on the medial branch nerves of the facet joint. For higher efficiency, the injection targets specific medical branch nerves, which carry pain signals from the facet joints.

The anesthetic numbs the area and contributes to immediate pain relief. The procedure is painless and quick when you rely on the expertise of your pain management doctor at Redefine Healthcare. The medial branch block treatment process includes:

  1. Undergoing a medical review, during which your doctor examines your vital signs and confirms that you’re not allergic to the steroid medication
  2. Lying face down on an examination table to give your doctor access to your spine
  3. Relaxing while the doctor prepares the injection area with local anesthetic to reduce discomfort during the injection
  4. Watching as the doctor maps a path for the needle, using contrast dye and fluoroscopic x-ray guidance
  5. Waiting while your specialist injects the site with the pain-relieving medication
  6. Remaining about 30 minutes in the recovery area for observation

Medial Branch Block Recovery

A medial branch block is a short-term pain management approach and allows your physician to fully identify the problem that’s causing your back pain. If you get immediate relief from the medial branch block, you may be a candidate for a long-term solution, such as thoracic radiculopathy or cervical radiofrequency treatment.

You may find long-lasting relief following additional medical branch block treatments. Recovery is immediate from each treatment; you can resume normal activities right after you have an injection. The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site, which you can ease with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs.

The team of pain specialists at Redefine Healthcare have used this pain management technique to help countless people suffering from chronic back pain. If you struggle with persistent back pain, contact the pain management practice in northern New Jersey for the best pain relief solutions.

This page was published on Jul 20, 2017, modified on Nov 18, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a "top pain management doctor in New Jersey" and one of "America’s Top Physicians" for advanced sports injury treatments.

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