At the Pain & Spine Institute in Joliet, IL, we specialize in delivering cutting-edge pain management services to individuals of all ages who are dealing with back pain and other spinal pain conditions. As part of our comprehensive approach, our experts may recommend an initial consultation to assess your specific needs and determine the most suitable course of action. During this evaluation, we may identify you as an ideal candidate for a diagnostic procedure called a diagnostic medial branch block.
When the facet joints, which are integral parts of the spinal bony framework extending from the vertebrae, experience inflammation, it can lead to a range of discomfort from a dull ache to intense pain in the lower back. This pain may extend down the buttocks and lower thighs. Similarly, inflammation in the neck facet joints can cause pain when rotating the head, often accompanied by radiating discomfort throughout the neck and shoulders. To diagnose and address these painful conditions, a diagnostic medial branch block involves administering a potent local anesthetic through targeted injections into the medial branch nerves connected to the inflamed facet joints.
The medial branch block is an outpatient procedure. Throughout the process, your blood pressure and oxygen levels are closely monitored to ensure your safety and well-being. Depending on the area being treated, you will be positioned either on your stomach or on your side. With expertise and precision, the doctor administers a small volume of local anesthetic along the path of each medial branch nerve. While you may experience a momentary pinch and a mild burning sensation during the insertion of the needle, rest assured that the procedure itself is not generally painful. Following a brief recovery period, observed by a nurse at the clinic, you can return home to continue your day.
The effectiveness of further therapy, such as lesioning the medial branch nerves, in managing or eliminating back and neck pain relies heavily on the degree of pain reduction or elimination experienced by patients after undergoing this procedure. This procedure often leads to a significant decrease or even complete relief of pain for varying durations—ranging from a few hours to a few days. The information gained from the level of pain reduction guides the doctor in assessing the potential success of subsequent treatments. By understanding the extent of pain relief achieved through the block, the doctor can determine the appropriate course of action to effectively manage and alleviate the patient’s back and neck pain.
If you and your doctor have determined that the diagnostic medial branch block is a suitable diagnostic technique to identify the right pain management therapy for your specific condition, rest assured that the procedure carries minimal risks. While it is common to experience pain at the injection site, complications such as bleeding or nerve damage are rare occurrences.
At the Pain & Spine Institute, our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is committed to assisting you in finding relief from pain. For many individuals, undergoing a Diagnostic Medial Branch Block has proven to be a successful milestone on their path toward a pain-free life.