MEDIAL BRANCH BLOCK
Medial branch block is the diagnostic procedure used to treat facet joint arthritis. Facet joint arthritis can be treated with steroid injections. However, for longer lasting relief, we can target the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joint.
The medial branch is a nerve that carries pain signals from the facet joint to the spinal cord and brain. Medial branches are located along the part of the vertebra that is next to the joint.
The physician will first perform diagnostic blocks to confirm that arthritis of the facet joint is the cause of pain. For patients with significant facet arthritis pain, this diagnostic procedure should provide temporary relief. If the patient reports good pain relief, then they would qualify for radio-frequency ablation.
The ablation is performed with a device that uses a high frequency electrical current to eliminate the transmission of nerve signals. This RFA procedure can provide 9-12 months of relief. If the pain returns, then the patient would be able to repeat the procedure yearly.