Facet joints are small joints on either side of each vertebra in the spinal column that allow us to bend forward and backward. A medial branch nerve block temporarily interrupts the pain signal to a specific facet joint. In most cases, a set of two medial branch nerve blocks will be scheduled. The diagnostic blocks help to find out whether the facet joints are the cause of the back pain. The procedure takes approximately 10-15 minutes.
The procedure is done using fluoroscopy (live X-ray guidance). A local anesthetic is injected into the skin and deeper tissues prior to placement of the needles for the block. The procedure is done for diagnostic purposes, which means to determine the source of your pain. If the source of your pain is from these joints, you should have pain relief for a period of 2-6 hours depending on what medication was used. If pain relief is substantial after the block, this will help in determining the next step of treatment.