Facet joint / medial branch nerve block injections


Facet joints are small joints at the back of the spine which support and aid in the rotation and bending of the back. Each facet joint is supplied by two nerves, called medial branch nerves.  These joints and their nerves can become irritated and painful due to arthritis, a back injury or stress on the back. In order to assess whether the facet joints or the medial branch nerves are the source of a patient’s pain, the doctor will inject a numbing agent like lidocaine or marcaine into the painful area; if the patient reports that their pain has dissipated, the doctor will then inject the same location with an anti-inflammatory (cortisone) or dextrose (prolotherapy). The cortisone or dextrose will lessen the inflammation in the painful area, allowing the body to heal itself and this will reduce the pain experienced.

For a few hours following the procedure, the patient may feel some numbness in their back. The patient may also notice an increase in their pain over the next few days following the injection as the numbing agent wears off. The pain will dissipate as the cortisone or dextrose begins to work and the patient should notice an improvement in their pain within the first week. In most cases this improvement will remain for several months; these injections can be repeated up to three times a year.

Patients with diabetes should notify their doctor and monitor their blood sugar following the procedure as the injection can increase blood sugar. Patients who are taking blood thinning medications should also have a discussion with their doctor prior to the procedure.

Our office offers facet joint and medial branch injections to patients suffering from spine painradiculopathy – cervical, thoracic, and lumbarmultiple sclerosis (MS), osteoarthritis, lumbago, and failed back syndrome.

Sources: http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/injections/cervical-thoracic-and-lumbar-facet-joint-injections

http://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/pain-management/lumbar-facet-joint-injection-information

http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/anesthetic-or-corticosteroid-injections-for-low-back-pain

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