What is a Medial Branch Block?

The Medial Branch Block (MBB) is a diagnostic test to determine candidacy for Radiofrequency Neurotomy (Radiofrequency Ablation or Rhizotomy).

This is done by injecting a numbing agent onto the medial branch nerves. This is meant to TEMPORARILY numb the nerve, which should “shut off” pain signals to the brain.

If you feel immediate pain relief from this temporary injection, then that is a good indication that your pain is stemming from the facet joint and that you are a great candidate for the Rhizotomy (Radiofrequency Ablation).

Once the injection has been completed you will be given a pain diary to keep track of your pain levels for the remainder of the day. The amount of relief you receive will determine if you are or are not a candidate to burn the same nerves in the Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure.

Please note that medial branches do not control muscles or sensations in the arms or legs.

How are the injections done?

These injections will be done in a sterile procedure room at one of Dr. Anden’s chosen facilities. You will be brought into the procedure room and asked to lie on your stomach. Your clothes will be moved and the targeted area will be cleaned. Once Dr. Anden has located the injection site using a live x-ray, she will numb your skin and guide her needle into place.

The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and the majority of patients do extremely well. You will not be put to sleep for this procedure, as it only takes a few quick minutes.

You can return to your regular, normal activity following the shot.

You will be given a pain diary to take home and keep track of your pain levels. Dr. Anden’s office will contact you the following day to review these results.

Does my insurance cover this?

Most insurance’s that Dr. Anden takes should cover a this diagnostic test. Our office is very proactive in getting your injection pre-authorized with your insurance, if required. We will also pre-authorize the Rhizotomy procedure if indicated.

Every insurance plan and every patient is different. There is no way for our office to know how much of the injection will be covered. You can contact your insurance they should be able to give you an “out of pocket” cost, if any.

What are the Risks?

Risks of Medial Branch Block are minimal, as we do not use any steroid during this injection. As with any poke through the skin that is a very small chance of bleeding or infection.

You should make your physician aware of any blood thinning medication you are taking that may increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure.

What happens after my injection?

You should have good relief that day, but that is only TEMPORARY as this a TEST injection. Your pain relief can last 1 hour or 24 hours, each patient is different, but the relief will wear off and your pain will return.

Dr. Anden’s office will contact you the following day to discuss your results. Depending on the amount of relief you received, you may be scheduled for Radiofrequency Neurotomy.

You may return to work or other normal activity that day. It is always best to continue at home stretching and exercises which can strengthen your core and improve your mobility.