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Facet and Medial Branch Blocks

Facet and Medial Branch Blocks

What is a facet joint?

A facet joint is a small, flat joint located between the vertebrae of the spine. Facet joints allow the spine to move and bend while still providing support and stability. Each vertebra has two facet joints, one on each side.

Facet joints are held together by strong ligaments that attach the facets to one another and help to keep the spine in alignment. The facet joints are lubricated by a thin layer of fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid helps to reduce friction between the joint surfaces and allows the spine to move smoothly.

What is a facet joint injection and what does it treat?

A facet joint injection is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat pain in the facet joints. The injection contains steroids to reduce inflammation, and other anti-inflammatory medications.

Facet joint injections can be an effective treatment for pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and other conditions that cause inflammation or irritation of the facet joints. They can be recommended to relieve pain in the arm, leg, back, and neck.

What is a medial branch block?

A medial branch block is a pain relief or diagnostic procedure that involves injecting a local anesthetic into the medial nerves, which are located on either side of the vertebrae in the cervical and lumbar spine. This numbs the nerves and can provide temporary relief from pain in the neck or back. In some cases, a medial branch block may be used as part of a treatment plan for chronic pain. It is also a diagnostic procedure to identify whiplash in the cervical spine.

How are a facet block and a medial branch block the same?

  • Both are minimally invasive outpatient procedures performed in a clinic or hospital.
  • Both are performed under fluoroscopy, a live x-ray, that allows the interventional pain management specialist to accurately place the injection.
  • Both may be used to treat pain and to diagnose the source of your pain.
  • Both are used to treat facet joint pain.
  • Either may contain a steroid and or a local anesthetic.
  • Either can be used to predict whether radiofrequency nerve ablation will provide a benefit.

How are a facet block and a medial branch block different?

A facet joint injection is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat pain in the joints in the neck and back caused by arthritis. A medial branch block is a similar procedure that is used to treat mechanical back and neck pain in the nerves caused by a variety of problems including muscle strain, disc herniation, trauma, etc.

The main difference between the two procedures is that a facet joint injection is injected into the facet joint, while a medial branch block is injected outside of the joint space near the small medial nerves connected to each facet joint.

At Ortho Illinois, we offer interventional pain management to diagnose and treat pain using minimally invasive procedures include epidural steroid injections. Contact us to discover the benefits of interventional pain management and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you feel better without surgery or the need for medications.