Medial Branch Block

A medial branch block is a minimally invasive injection of numbing medicine. It bathes the medial branch nerves which attach to the facet joints of your spine. These nerves hurt when facet joints in the neck or low back are injured or diseased. The injection is performed to help find the source of your pain and to determine if you are a candidate for radiofrequency ablation. It can relieve your pain for a brief time, but it is predominantly used as a diagnostic tool.

The Procedure

The patient lies face down and x-rays are taken to locate the precise area where the needle should go. Medication is administered with a tiny needle to numb the area. Under x-ray guidance, a needle is positioned where the medial branch nerves run. These nerves provide sensory innervation to the facet joints. The medication is then injected and the needle is removed.


The risks of the procedure are bleeding, infection, and damage/irritation to nerves. These are mitigated by ensuring the patient is not on blood thinners and has received permission to stop them, there are no active infections, and the procedure is performed in a sterile manner by an experienced fellowship-trained physician under x-ray guidance for precision needle placement.


Even though we are blocking nerves this should not cause weakness as only sensory nerves are targeted.