What’s Causing That Bad Back?

Back pain is so common; many accept pain as a normal part of life. However, the pain is often a result of an underlying condition. If left untreated, back pain can cause severe damage and reduce the quality of life. Diagnosing the problem the first step. Often, back pain could be spinal-related. A medial branch block can help doctors pinpoint the specific cause.

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Small but painful joints and nerves

The spine consists of bones called vertebrae that connect to form the spinal column. These bones protect the spinal cord. Between the vertebrae are facet joints that allow movement. Facet joints have small nerves that send signals to the brain. If the facet joints are damaged or degrade due to arthritis, the medial nerves respond with pain signals. Facet joint damage is just one of many spinal related issues, and a medial branch block can confirm the issue.

How medial branch blocks work

A medial branch block works in two ways. The initial objective is to confirm if the facet joints in the painful part of the back are indeed the cause. As a side effect, the branch block can relieve pain, if only for a short period. The branch block is an injection of medication in the nerves on the facet joints. The injection stops pain signals from going to the brain, hence stopping the pain. The medial branch block is not an outright treatment. The injection is an indicator that the patient needs more treatment, like surgery.

The branch block process

To complete the process, the patient lays face down with the back exposed. The doctor uses a series of 3 injections to complete the branch block. First, the doctor injects a numbing agent for the surrounding area. The second injection is a contact solution. The contact solution makes the nerves on the affected joint visible via x-ray. With an x-ray view of the nerves on the facet joint, the doctor gives the final shot. This is cortisone that goes around the nerve. This injection stops the nerves from communicating with the brain. Branch blocks are quick outpatient procedures but are the start of a long monitoring process.

No luck on this block

After the medial branch block, the patient gauges the pain in the area. If pain is relieved, then comes back, the doctor confirms that the facet joint nerves are the cause of back pain. The patient may need follow-up surgery to reduce the pain once and for all. There are occasions where the branch block does not work. That means the facet joints and nerves are not the cause of the pain.

So what’s next?

The doctor needs to do additional tests to find the root cause of the pain. Tests include MRIs, bone scans, or nerve tests. There could be an underlying nerve condition, an issue with discs, or spinal stenosis. In the interim, the patient can still use medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to manage pain.

Consider a medial branch block

A medial branch block is an effective method of determining if the facet joint nerves are at fault for pain. The injections can also give temporary relief if the issue is indeed nerve-related. If a branch block does not work, there is another issue causing back pain. Doctors can try further tests for a proper diagnosis. Speak with a doctor about the possibility of a medial branch block today.

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“Anesthesia staff was outstanding!”

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“NO wait time, RN Rebecca answered all questions prior to my visit by phone and again answered all questions and concerns while prepping me.”
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“Amazing nurses, very caring and friendly and put both me and my son at ease.”

“The staff was great, especially Mary and Marcia. Marcia was extremely helpful post-op and made sure I was comfortable and well-cared for.”

“I liked that it was so clean. Every staff member was pleasant and easy to talk with.”

“Efficiency of the staff. Courteous, friendly and caring attitude. Excellent office staff. Pleasant surroundings.”
“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”
“Dr. Dedhia made everything clear and even scheduled an early follow-up appt so I could get back to work sooner.”
“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”
“Incredibly professional, friendly and confidence of knowing their roles as healthcare employees. Excellent!”
“The staff was very polite, they were excellent. They explained exactly what was going on.”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“Amazing nurses, very caring and friendly and put both me and my son at ease.”

“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”

“Everyone was friendly and the place was very clean.”

“No severe pain – Just a little discomfort – I was asked several times during procedure if I was OK – they showed genuine concern for my well being.”
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“No severe pain – Just a little discomfort – I was asked several times during procedure if I was OK – they showed genuine concern for my well being.”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”
“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”

“I liked that it was so clean. Every staff member was pleasant and easy to talk with.”

“NO wait time, RN Rebecca answered all questions prior to my visit by phone and again answered all questions and concerns while prepping me.”
“Rebecca was amazing. I have always had trouble in the past with getting an IV started. I told Rebecca I was concerned about it. She got it on the 1st try – no digging in my arm and NO bruising the next day.”

“Anesthesia staff was outstanding!”

“The staff was very polite, they were excellent. They explained exactly what was going on.”
“The nurses were very nice and caring!”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”

“I can’t say enough about Marcia and the entire team. The care I received was well beyond anything I could have expected.”

“I can’t say enough about Marcia and the entire team. The care I received was well beyond anything I could have expected.”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

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Please contact us with any questions about your treatment at The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery.

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