Back Pain Relief From Medial Branch Block

Back pain can be caused from an accident, herniated disk, arthritis, crushed vertebrae, a bulging disk, autoimmune diseases & more! Those of us with autoimmune diseases of the mixed connective tissue (like EDS ) are very familiar with chronic joint & back pain. Whether you suffer from back pain from an accident or a disease, life’s activities can be pretty limiting and living on pain meds can be depressing.

But, don’t despair! There are options & hope.


Medial Branch Block

help for chronic pain

Help for chronic pain

Pain can be managed in a myriad of ways from nutraceuticals & herbs to conventional medicine.  There are also non-surgical procedures that you may find beneficial.  A few of these include: epidural injections, radiofrequency neurotomy, spinal cord stimulation, SI joint injections, trigger point injections, facet joint injections, medial branch blocks and more. Today we will focus on a nonsurgical method called “medial branch injection” or its brother the “facet joint” injection. The biggest difference between a medial branch block and a facet joint injection is where the injections are made into the body in order to deliver the pain relief. With a medial branch block, a small needle is injected next to the nerve supplying the facet joint. This numbing medication is injected under guidance meaning x-ray. With the facet joint injection, medication is injected directly into the joint.

Medial branch block injections are done to interrupt the sensory nerve supply to the involved facet joints. Pain signals travel along peripheral nervous system until they reach your spinal cord.  Facet joints are the small joints between the vertebrae and the back of your spine. These joints provide stability to the spine and also allow the movement forward, back and side to side etc. Each of these facet joints has small nerves (aka medial branch nerves) that carry the pain signals from that joint to our brains.

If you have an auto immune disease you have inflammation. As we know, inflammation (generally) causes pain. So guess what – it’s a double whammy!  If you have a problem with these facet joints and you have inflammation of these particular joints you’re going to have pain: nearly constantly.


The Procedure

This procedure is typically done with you lying on your stomach especially (if it’s for your back). The injection is made up of a small amount of long acting local anesthetic. Of course, your blood pressure and oxygenation levels are monitored (along with whatever else they feel is important based on your level of health).

If the right medial branch nerves were targeted (meaning the ones carrying the signals for pain) the benefit of this procedure is typically realized within a few minutes. You’re usually asked to record pain levels during the first couple of days of the procedure. You may also be asked to do a follow up medial branch block within a few weeks.  If you don’t obtain reasonable relief from these injections then it’s unlikely that you would get relief from anything like radiofrequency lesioning.

I’ve had this type of (medial block) injection done before (in a different area of my body). It felt like a needle stick and then a slight burning solution coming through the needle with pressure. I remember the pressure at the injection site probably hurting the most. I’m hoping for a different – less painful procedure this time but the outcome was so positive it would be worth it either way!  I am about to try it again – this time on my back after 5 years of anti-inflammatory herbs, nutraceuticals & conventional medicines like ibuprofen, Tramadol, muscle relaxers, Lyrica and other medicines.   The goal is to reduce or ideally eliminate the amount of meds & nutraceuticals I take (24-72 pills a day) to help me manage my pain and autoimmune responses. … So, this may end up as a two part blog post: Before and after!


My Recommendations:

If you are in a lot of pain for your back and its limiting your motion and activity level, ask your doctor for a referral to a spine specialist. They can order X-rays and MRI’s done and test your nerves to determine the level of damage and possible care/ pain management options.  It’s worth it and a whole lot better than lying down all day or living on meds to deal with the pain!

I have a medial block scheduled for Oct 17th.  Send me positive vibes & let’s hope I’m singing its praises soon!

September 23, 2016

One Comment

  1. Joan Carter-Holmes September 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    You must have someone take you to and from the doctor.

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