This Condition Is Common, But Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Even though back pain is common, that doesn’t mean the condition should be ignored. Back pain can significantly interfere with daily life, making people miss work and skip exercising. When pain lasts for 3 months or longer, the condition is considered chronic. In these cases, a pain management specialist can provide treatment options. One innovative way that these specialists offer pain relief is through medial branch blocks and blocking of pain signals.
A diagnostic procedure
A medial branch block is a procedure that affects the medial branch nerves. These small nerves are part of the spine and carry pain signals to the brain. The medial branch block is a diagnostic procedure to determine if a patient’s discomfort is due to the medial nerves.
What happens after the injection?
The procedure involves an injection of anesthetic into the facet joint where the medial nerves are located. If the patient experiences significant relief after the injection, then doctors can conclude that the source of pain is connected to these nerves. Typically, this relief is short-lived, and patients will need a more long-term solution. One of these possible solutions includes radiofrequency ablation.
Heating nerve tissue
During radiofrequency ablation, the pain management specialist uses an electric current to heat nerve tissue. This process can interfere with the nerve sending pain signals to the brain. The procedure can be beneficial for patients suffering from chronic pain. Good candidates for ablation include those with back, neck, joint pain, or arthritis.
How long does pain relief last?
With medial branch blocks, the pain relief only lasts until the anesthetic wears off, typically within hours. After radiofrequency ablation, many patients experience symptom relief for 6-12 months after the procedure. Some experience pain reduction for even longer. The procedure is effective in over 70% of cases and has minimal risks. That said, patients who have bleeding disorders or who have active infections should tell the doctor, as these patients may not be good candidates for the procedure.
Back pain treatment options
Back pain can result from a muscle strain or sprain, a ruptured disc, or an underlying condition like arthritis or osteoporosis. No matter the cause, if back pain becomes chronic, a pain management specialist can help. Speak with a healthcare provider today to begin the conversation about managing back pain and to find out if medial branch blocks are a good treatment option.