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Medial Branch Blocks and Radiofrequency Neuroablation Protocol

Medial branch nerves are nerves that are connected to the facet joints in the spine. The facet joints are a part of the spine that help make the back flexible. At times, these facet joints can become inflamed, causing either neck or back pain.

A medial branch nerve block is a procedure where some local anesthetic is injected on to the medial branch nerve. This procedure is diagnostic. That is, if the patient experiences a brief period of relief after this procedure, the facet joint is determined to be the source of the pain. The patient is then deemed a good candidate for a subsequent procedure called "medial branch radiofrequency neuroablation."

The medial branch radiofrequency neuroablation is performed to achieve more long-term pain relief. During this procedure, a heat lesion is created on the medial branch nerve that is transmitting the pain signal to the brain. This helps interrupt the pain signal to the brain while still keeping other functions intact. Affording up to several months of pain reduction, the radiofrequency procedure enables patients to more vigorously engage in post-procedure physical therapy when long-term benefits are achieved.

What to expect:

  • The procedure will be performed in an operation room with conscious sedation.

  • The procedure may take up to two to three weeks to reduce pain.

  • Your symptoms may feel worse in the first few days before it gets better.
  • After the procedure, patients will take the rest of the day off.
  • You will be able to resume normal daily activities the next day.
  • You will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for the six hours leading up to your procedure.
  • A driver will need to take you home after the procedure.