Facet Joints are the joints between the vertebrae and the spine that allow the spine to bend, flex and twist. Medial Branch nerves are smaller nerves within these facets. When Facet Joints are inflamed, Medial Branch nerves send pain signals to the brain.
Medial Branch Block Injections are a minimally-invasive, highly-effective, pain-relieving treatment option for patients suffering from Medial Branch nerve or Facet Joint pain. In fact, more than 68 percent of all patients who received Medial Branch injections report significant pain relief, even several months after the procedure.
Medial Branch Block Injections function as both a diagnostic and a treatment for pain. The procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and most patients experience immediate results.
The patient lies, comfortably prone, on his or her stomach. Dr. Skaliy administers a local anesthetic to numb the skin around the joint suspected of causing the patient’s pain.
Once the area is numb, a contrast dye is injected. The purpose of the dye is to allow Dr. Skaliy to view the painful area using a specialized camera called a fluoroscope. Using the fluoroscope, Dr. Skaliy can precisely place the injection where it will be of maximum benefit to the patient.
This tool also reduces potential risks associated with this procedure. While the risks are considered very low, patients are encouraged to address any questions about potential risks to Dr. Skaliy during your appointment.
When Dr. Skaliy has confirmed the injection needle is in the correct location, he attaches a syringe containing the anesthetic medication. The medication is then injected around the Medial Branch nerves in order to “block” the pain signals being sent to the brain.
The initial anesthetic injection will temporarily block sensation in these nerves. If this temporary injection relieves the patient’s pain, Dr. Skaliy will inject a longer-lasting anesthetic into the area around the Medial Branch nerves.
If the initial injection does not relieve the pain, Dr. Skaliy will perform the same temporary procedure on adjacent Facet Joints to identify the source of the patient’s pain. When the joint causing the pain is identified, Dr. Skaliy will inject a more long-term pain-relieving medication into this area.
Once the Medial Branch Block has established the location of the patient’s pain, Dr. Skaliy may recommend Radiofrequency Ablation for more long-term pain relief. This procedure is designed to interrupt the pain signal to the brain while preserving muscle strength and customary sensations.
Thanks to the minimally-invasive nature of both Medial Branch Blocks and Radiofrequency Ablation, as well as the immediate relief of symptoms, patients may resume their normal daily activities the very next day.