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What Is a Medial Branch Block?

Neck and back pain are among the top contributors to chronic back pain. Treatment for pain is highly individualized, and a visit with a pain management specialist is the best place to start on the road to getting relief. Among the treatment options are nerve blocks. A medial branch nerve block is used to treat pain related to facet joint problems.

Highly regarded pain management physician Michael Pylman, MD, and the team at Lynx Healthcare are here to help you manage your pain so you can enjoy life again. Our skilled team of board-certified practitioners know the impact chronic pain can have on your quality of life.

The Lynx Healthcare team specializes in interventional pain medicine for a range of conditions, including facet joint-related neck and back pain.

If you have facet joint pain, here’s what you should know about medial branch blocks. 

What are facet joints?

Facet joints are bony structures that connect the vertebrae of your spine together. Each of the vertebrae of your spine has two sets of facet joints. The superior articular facet joints face upward, while the inferior articular facet joints face downward. Facet joints are hinge-like joints that join vertebrae together and enable movement, allowing you to bend and twist.

Facet joint problems are a common cause of neck and back pain. Damage from injury or arthritis can cause the cartilage that protects the joints to deteriorate. Inflamed or damaged facet joints send pain signals to medial branch nerves, which tells your brain that your neck or back is in pain. 

How does a medial branch block work?

A medial branch block is a treatment for chronic pain caused by problems with the facet joints. Medial branch nerves are tiny nerve branches that transmit messages between the facet joints and the brain. Blocking these nerves relieves pain. 

A medial branch block involves injecting the targeted medial branch nerves with substances that disrupt pain signals to provide significant relief from facet joint-related pain. Medial branch blocks provide longer pain relief than steroid injections alone and may help prevent the need for surgery. Your provider may administer steroids and an anesthetic to the affected region as well.

Your spine is composed of the neck (cervical spine), upper back (thoracic spine), and lower back (lumbar spine). The medication can be injected near the affected vertebrae in these areas to stop your pain. 

A medial branch block injected into the cervical region targets neck pain, while medication injected into the lumbar region targets lower back pain. Medial branch blocks injected into the thoracic area are shown to reduce pain in the upper and middle back regions.

Nerve blocks are effective at relieving neck and back pain. Most patients report a significant reduction in pain and improved mobility. Pain relief may last for up to two years. 

Getting relief from neck and back pain

If you’re struggling with neck or back pain, there is hope. Dr. Pylman and our team at Lynx Healthcare are devoted to helping you get relief. Give us a call at our office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to schedule a visit, or you can request an appointment online today. 

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