Medial Branch Blocks

Medial branch blocks are a procedure that uses strategically placed injections to help manage chronic pain occurring in the spine. The injections used are a local anesthetic and a steroid placed near the medial branch nerves. These nerves are responsible for transmitting pain signals to the brain. The medial branch nerves are located in the cervical, lumbar, and thoracic areas of the spine.

In this guide, we will go over what medial branch blocks are, how the procedure is performed, and the symptoms that can occur in each area of the spine.

Cervical Medial Branch Blocks

The cervical area of the spine is where the seven vertebrae in the neck are located. A medial branch block can help diagnose the source of the pain occurring in the cervical area. A cervical medial branch block is a local anesthetic injected into the cervical area of your spine. If you feel immediate relief upon receiving the injection, there is a high probability that the facet joints are the source of your pain.

Below is a list of other symptoms that can occur:

  • Soreness in the muscles
  • Feelings of weakness in the arm
  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Pain in the upper back
  • A tingling, needle-like sensation

Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks

A lumbar medial branch block functions the same way as a cervical nerve block. But instead of having an injection into the neck, it is applied to the lower back instead. Before the injection is made, a special type of X-ray called a fluoroscope, is used to pinpoint the medial branches in the lumbar spine. With the help of a fluoroscope, the doctor can make more precise injections for better pain relief.

Below are the symptoms commonly associated with the medial branches of the lumbar spine:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • A sharp sensation
  • Having trouble standing up or moving
  • Having pain that lasts more than six weeks
  • Having pain that radiates in the knee

Thoracic Medial Branch Blocks

Thoracic medial branch blocks are injected into the center of your back, which is known as the thoracic spine. When the thoracic medial nerves are damaged, it can lead to a variety of symptoms.

These symptoms can include the following:

  • Pain in the thoracic spine
  • Pain that radiates to other parts of the body, such as the rib cage
  • Feelings of stiffness
  • Limited mobility
  • Sensitivity in the thoracic area
  • Tenderness in the thoracic area
  • Muscle spasms
  • Feelings of numbness or tingling

The symptoms experienced will vary from patient to patient as well as the underlying cause. For example, some patients may experience damage to the medial branch nerves due to facet joint arthritis, while others might have it due to a degenerative disorder. Proper diagnosis is critical to treating medial branch nerves.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or problems with movement, it could be due to your medial branch nerves. If you have sustained a back injury, contact us at 480-550-9393 to schedule an appointment with one of our professional healthcare providers today.


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