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Last Modified: May 2, 2023

Medial Branch Block Injections

Medial Branch Block InjectionsMedial branches are tiny nerves along the spinal cord that communicate pain signals to the brain. If a patient is experiencing severe back or neck pain along their spinal cord, a medial branch block injection is used to determine whether facet joints are the reason behind the pain. If a patient’s pain is quickly relieved following the injection, then the location can correctly diagnosed to the facet joints. Thus, the injection meets both diagnostic and pain-relief goals. In more extreme cases of pain, patients may require medial branch radiofrequency neurotomy (or ablation), for longer-term pain relief. 

Reasons for Receiving Injection

A medical branch block injection is normally performed when a patient experiences severe back and neck pain. According to Ohio Health Medcentral:

Patients with arthritic or thickened facet joints on X-rays that also have any chronic back or neck pain with movement are usually good candidates for facet injections.

However, other patients with normal-looking facet joints who have arthritis or inflammation (undetected by x-ray) can still benefit from such an injection. Often, medial branch block injections are necessary for accident victims who have experienced severe whiplash or other traumatic back or neck injuries. If twisting or bending are extremely difficult or painful for a patient, a medial branch block injection can ease the pain. The injection is also utilized to help recovering patients participate in and improve upon their physical therapy.

Risk Factors

Receiving medial block injections is not completely risk-free. According to Spine Health, the following complications could arise:

  • Allergic reaction. Usually, the allergy is to the X-ray contrast or steroid; rarely to local anesthetic. Life threatening or severe allergies are rare.
  • Bleeding. A rare complication, bleeding is more common for patients with underlying bleeding disorders or in patients on blood thinners.
  • Infection. Minor infections occur in less than 1% to 2% of all injections. Severe infections are rare, occurring in 0.1% to 0.01% of injections.
  • Discomfort at the point of the injection or worsening of pain symptoms. These symptoms are usually mild and short-lived. Long lasting increases in pain are rare.
  • Nerve or spinal cord damage or paralysis. While very rare, damage to the spinal cord or spinal nerves can occur from direct trauma from the needle, or secondarily from infection, bleeding resulting in compression, or injection into an artery causing blockage.

If you or someone you know is suffering from severe facet pain due to someone else’s negligence, or if you experienced any of the above complications as a result of a medial branch block injection, you may be eligible for compensation. With steep medical bills for physical therapy, medications, and even surgery, it can be financially devastating. On top of the financial woes, grave pain and suffering and a loss of wages can accompany such circumstances. The lawyers at Christensen & Hymas make it their goal to ease the burden of such an injury by helping you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 801-506-0800.

Photo “Injection Syringe” copyright by Kubei.

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