Lumbar Medial Branch Block
- Purpose – To determine if the zygapophyseal (facet) joints are the source of pain. This is a temporary test; however, if the facet joints are the cause of pain, a long-term procedure, such as radiofrequency ablation, may be performed.
- Overview – The injection delivers a dose of anesthetic directly to the lumbar medial branch nerves in order to establish a diagnosis. These nerves do not control any muscles, or sensation of the arms or legs, but are small nerve branches that communicate pain caused by the facet joints in the spine.
- Before the procedure – Make sure you have a driver to bring you to and from your appointment. Beware that occasionally people will have a reaction to the contrast that is injected.
- Details – X-ray images are taken, then numbing solution is injected in multiple areas to anesthetize the skin. In each location radiopaque dye is used as a contrast solution under x-ray guidance to confirm the correct needle position. Once the accurate location is determined, the anesthetic is injected in the lumbar medial branch nerves.
- After the procedure – It is best to continue with normal activity in order to assess the accuracy of the test and confirm the location of the nerve irritation or entrapment. In a couple of days the office will call you to assess effectiveness, or you will have a follow up visit.
- Potential Complications – Allergic reaction to medication, nerve damage, or bruising of the injection site.
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