Just like other joints in your body, the joints in your spine can wear down, develop arthritis, and cause chronic back and neck pain. At Spectrum Pain Clinics, Jeffrey Hall, MD, has extensive experience performing medial branch blocks, using them to diagnose the source of the pain and pave the way for long-lasting treatment with medial branch radiofrequency ablation. If you’re ready to defy the pain of spinal arthritis and get back to the activities you enjoy, it’s time to learn about medial branch blocks. Request an appointment online now, or call the office in Jackson or Cordova, Tennessee.
Your spine can bend and move thanks to the facet joints that connect the vertebrae. Like other joints in your body, facet joints have a cartilage lining that can wear away over the years. That’s when you develop facet joint arthritis.
Medial branch nerves carry pain signals from the facet joint to your brain. After your brain receives and interprets the messages, you feel the pain.
When you get a medial branch block at Spectrum Pain Clinics, Dr. Hall injects lidocaine, a local anesthetic, at the specific medial branch nerve that’s sending pain messages to your brain. The anesthetic quickly relieves your pain by blocking the nerve signals.
You may receive a cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back), or lumbar (lower back) medial branch block. There are two basic types: diagnostic and therapeutic.
A diagnostic medial branch block is the first step toward helping you get relief from the pain of facet joint arthritis. During this procedure, Dr. Hall injects lidocaine at the targeted medial branch nerve.
If your pain improves, it verifies that he identified the nerve responsible for your pain. After a successful diagnostic block, you can have a therapeutic medial nerve block or medial branch radiofrequency ablation.
A therapeutic medial branch block contains lidocaine and steroids. It is therapeutic for two reasons. First, additional shots of lidocaine tend to produce longer-lasting results. And second, steroids reduce inflammation, which gives you extended pain relief.
This isn’t a medial branch block, but you need to have the diagnostic procedure before you can consider radiofrequency ablation for the same nerve. Instead of injecting medication, Dr. Hall uses a needle-like device to treat the nerve with radiofrequency energy.
The energy creates a wound on the medial branch nerve, stopping pain signals from going through the nerve. Going through the diagnostic nerve block is well worth it once you know that radiofrequency ablation can relieve your pain for nine months to two years.
If you’re diabetic, medial branch radiofrequency ablation gives you a treatment option that can pinpoint the nerve causing your pain without medications that can raise your blood sugar levels and A1C. Once the effect wears off, you may also be able to have another radiofrequency ablation to extend your pain relief.
Dr. Hall uses fluoroscopy, a type of real-time X-ray imaging, to view your vertebrae and guide the injection. After applying a local anesthetic, he inserts a fine needle, placing it directly at the targeted medial branch nerve.
Before injecting the anesthetic, Dr. Hall injects a small amount of contrast dye. That lets him see that the medication covers the medial branch nerve after it leaves the needle. Then he injects the local anesthetic and/or steroid.
If you’re ready to explore new treatments that give you long-lasting relief from back and neck pain, call Spectrum Pain Clinics, or book an appointment online today.