Medical Branch Nerve Block

Medical Branch Nerve Block by Dr. Vivek Loomba


Medical Branch Nerve Block is a procedure in which a local anesthetic is injected outside the joints near the medical nerve. The nerve supplies a connection to the facet joint. The procedure is repeated twice after a gap of several days. During the first procedure, a long-acting local anesthetic is injected for blockage of the medial branch nerve. In the second procedure, a short local anesthetic is injected. It is a kind of diagnostic procedure that determines the cause of your pain. It also provides pain relief for a short time period.

How the procedure is performed?

The procedure happens in a fluoroscopy room. You’ll have to lie face down on your stomach during the entire procedure. Your doctor will determine the exact location of the blockage. Local anesthesia is provided to numb the area where the needle is to be inserted.  A needle is injected into the fluoroscopy to see the spine and needles moving into the facet joint. Once the needle is inserted at the targeted area the injection medication is given to the patient. After the treatment bandage will be applied and monitored for 30-45 minutes. The patient can walk home on the same day after the discharge.

Benefits of Medical Branch Nerve Block 

Medical Branch Block helps in determining the source of pain for targeted treatments in the area. It also helps in providing short-term (temporary) pain relief. The recovery time of the procedure is also very fast. 

Risks and Side Effects

Every procedure comes with its own risk. The long-term side effects that may occur are –

  • Rare risk of bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve injury
  • Allergic reaction

Short-term side effects that may occur are –

  • Weakness or Numbness
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Short-term elevation of blood sugars in diabetic patients.
  • Increased fluid retention

The procedure needs to be avoided if you’ve got a fever, flu, cold, high blood pressure, or are on blood thinners. Consult your doctor if you’re facing any similar conditions.

Follow-up requirements

A follow-up appointment with the doctor will be scheduled after two weeks of performing the procedure. This doctor after necessary evaluation will determine the other treatment options for your procedure. Your doctors will also recommend avoiding bathing or swimming for two days. Also, to avoid strain on the nerves doctors will also recommend avoiding driving for 24 hrs. All the necessary instructional details will be provided for adequate pain management and when to seek professional medical help for severe complications and side effects.