At Integrated Pain Consultants, our team of experts is committed to pinpointing the cause of your pain and treating it. Medial branch blocks can do both—the goal of this injection is to determine if your pain is from facet joints by temporarily numbing the medial branch nerves with a minimally invasive injection. If the medial branch nerves are the cause of your pain, you’ll experience relief from this injection and we can move forward with a more permanent pain solution. If the injection doesn’t relieve your pain, it’s unlikely that the medial branch nerves are the source of the pain and we’ll move on to another strategy to diagnose the cause.
Many of our pain specialists are double board-certified in pain management and anesthesiology, but when it comes to facet injections the fear of the process is usually much more severe than the injection itself. These injections work by injecting a local anesthetic mixed with a steroid into the potentially affected nerve. Many patients can avoid surgery entirely and become more engaged with their physical therapy after receiving these injections.
The actual injection is fast and generally well-tolerated by patients. Appointments last 5 – 15 minutes. In some cases, your pain management specialist might use a local anesthetic, and in rare cases IV sedation might be utilized. Nerve blocks are perfectly placed thanks to the use of a fluoroscope during the injection placement, also known as a very low-powered x-ray. This fluoroscope allows the professional administering the injection to be very accurate with the needle and injection placement and minimizes any complications.
Most patients want to know what to expect after their injection, and it depends. Some patients report immediate relief, some require an injection series before the pain fades, and sometimes the medial branch block is exclusively a diagnostic tool that lets us know the nerves aren’t the cause of the pain. Those who have had chronic pain for several years might struggle with pain from multiple sources, and the first injection might help but you could need multiple injections and complementary treatments for optimal pain management.
Injection frequency is based on your medical history, and know that it’s common to have a little post-injection soreness (but it shouldn’t interfere with your daily activities after 24 – 48 hours). To find out more about medial branch blocks, contact Integrated Pain Consultants at (480) 626-2552.