What is a Medial Branch Block Procedure?

What is a Medial Branch Block Procedure?

Chronic pain can be an overwhelming struggle for many, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life. One innovative pain management technique that is gaining attention for potentially providing relief is the Medial Branch Block procedure.

This minimally invasive, outpatient treatment could revolutionize how individuals experience and manage chronic back pain resulting from conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the details of what a Medial Branch Block procedure entails, its potential benefits for those suffering from relentless discomfort, and why it might be a game changer in addressing persistent spinal issues.

Understanding Medial Branch Block Procedures

To understand medial branch block procedures, it is important to know what facet joints and medial branch nerves, which carry pain signals, are and how they work together in the body.

How Does It Work: A Step-by-Step Guide

A medial branch block procedure is a type of spinal injection that temporarily blocks pain signals coming from the medial nerve. Here's a step-by-step guide on how it works:

  1. Before the procedure, patients are asked to lie face down on an exam table.
  2. The target area is cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic, there may be slight stinging or burning sensation.
  3. The doctor uses imaging guidance such as X-ray or ultrasound to locate the specific facet joint involved in the patient's pain.
  4. A small needle is inserted near the targeted nerves connected to the facet joint using imaging guidance.
  5. Once confirmed, a small amount of anesthetic solution mixed with steroid medication is injected into those nerves to block them for short-term pain relief and healing.
  6. After the facet joint injection, patients may experience temporary numbness or weakness in their legs and may require assistance in getting up from the exam table.
  7. Patients are instructed to rest for some time before going home after which they can gradually resume their normal activities.

Keep in mind that while most patients experience immediate relief after this treatment, the duration of pain relief varies from person to person and can be different depending upon several factors such as age, overall health status, and any underlying medical conditions they might have.

What Are Facet Joints And Medial Branch Nerves?

Facet joints, also known as zygapophysial joints, play a crucial role in the flexibility and movement of the spine. These small pairs of joints connect adjacent vertebrae, allowing for smooth motion while preventing excessive spinal rotation that could cause injury.

What Are Facet Joints And Medial Branch Nerves?

Medial branch nerves are delicate nerve fibers responsible for transmitting pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. When irritation or inflammation occurs within the affected joint due to arthritis or mechanical stress, it can result in chronic back pain.

In such cases, blocking these medial branch nerves through a medical procedure called "medial branch block" can provide significant relief from persistent discomfort.

Medial branch block procedures are typically safe with few risks or complications when performed by a qualified healthcare provider specializing in interventional spine care. 

Overall, this procedure is instrumental in providing temporary relief for chronic back pain originating from arthritic changes and mechanical stress in facet joints without requiring surgery or long term use of opioids or other medication for pain management.

Also Read: What Causes Shoulder Pain?: Symptoms And Treatments

Conditions Treated With Medial Branch Block Procedure

Medial branch block procedures are used to treat chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other musculoskeletal disorders that originate from the facet joints.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain can be debilitating and affect a person's quality of life. If non-invasive methods haven’t provided long term pain relief or the pain goes away for a few hours then comes back,  then medial branch block procedures may be a recommended option.

Arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions can cause mechanical stress on the back, leading to facet joint pain.

Medial branch blocks have been shown to reduce acute and chronic back pain for up to six months or longer with multiple treatment sessions. The procedure itself has minimal side effects such as temporary numbness at injection site or allergic reactions to medication, making it a safe option for most patients.


For people who suffer from arthritis, a medial branch block procedure may offer some relief. Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation in the joints, and it can be especially painful in the back.

A medial branch block injection can help to diagnose whether these facet joints are indeed causing the pain. It involves injecting an anesthetic near small nerves connected to specific facet joints to see if it stops or reduces the pain temporarily.

If there is no significant improvement after at least three blocks, then further intervention should be explored as suggested by interventional pain physician Dr.Ramakrishna T.V.D (M.D.).


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's believed to be linked to changes in the way the brain and spinal cord process pain signals.

Medial branch nerve blocks may provide temporary relief for patients with fibromyalgia who experience back pain. When injected near the medial nerves associated with specific facet joints, anesthetic agents can interrupt the sensory nerve supply responsible for transmitting pain signals from damaged or inflamed tissues.

Other Chronic Pain Conditions

In addition to chronic back pain, medial branch block procedures can also help manage pain from conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation in the joints, including the facet joints in the spine.

This inflammation can cause chronic pain that may be relieved with a medial branch block injection. Fibromyalgia is another chronic pain condition that affects muscles and soft tissues throughout the body.

A medial branch block injection can provide relief for those experiencing localized pain in their back as a result of this condition. There is a small chance of allergic reaction to the medication used, that’s why it’s important to seek out professional medical advice before coming to any conclusions.