Facet Blocks (Medial Branch Nerve Blocks)

Facet joints are small joints located at each level and on both sides of the spine.  They are responsible primarily for keeping the vertebrae in line from a “front to back” direction.  They function to maintain stability with rotation and can be a source of neck, mid-back, and low back pain.  Although arthritis involving these joints can easily be demonstrated on imaging studies, some patients exhibit facet mediated pain with negative scans.  These are usually related to stresses placed on the joints during accidents.  In order to diagnose if pain is actually coming from these joints, a block of the nerves that supply the joints is necessary.  This is called a medial branch facet nerve block.  These can be done for neck, mid-back, and low back pain.  If significant pain relief is obtained for at least short-term, then you may be a candidate for “radio frequency neurolysis” of these nerves to provide long-term relief.

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