What is a Medial Branch Block?

Medial branch nerves are very small nerves that allow us to feel pain from the facet joints in the spine. These nerves do not control any muscles or sensation in the arms or legs. A medial branch block is a minimally invasive procedure which places an anesthetic (numbing) medication around the medial branch nerve. The anesthetic medication numbs the nerve and temporarily stops the nerve from transmitting pain signals from the facet joint to the brain. If you receive temporary pain relief after a medial branch block for as long as the anesthetic medication lasts, this will give your physician information that the facet joints in your spine may be the source of your pain. This information is used to help your doctor plan for a more permanent way of providing pain relief.

What Happens During the Procedure?

The procedure is performed using an X-Ray machine. This enables the doctor to see your spine and make sure the medicine is going in the right place. The procedure is done with the patient laying on a procedure table. After numbing the area of skin with anesthetic medication the physician will perform the procedure. The procedure is minimally invasive and usually takes between 15-20 minutes to complete.

What Happens After the Procedure?

Immediately after the procedure, you will go to a recovery area where you will be asked to rate your pain on a pain scale. You may be asked to move around and try to imitate something that would normally bring about your typical pain. You may be provided with a pain log in order to rate your pain relief for the next several hours after the procedure. The physician will use this information to plan for your further care.

The anesthetic medicine may make you feel some numbness or weakness. This is expected and will wear off within a short period of time. For patient safety and the safety of others a designated driver must accompany the patient and be responsible for getting them home. Patients may return to their normal activities the day after the procedure, including returning to work.

Where is the Procedure Done?

At Oasis Interventional Spine Care all procedures are performed at the Chestnut Hill Hospital(Tower Health), which is located at 8835 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118.