A cervical medial branch block is an outpatient procedure used to alleviate the following symptoms:
Upper back pain
Cervical medial branch blocks involve the injection of a local anesthetic near the medial branch nerve to inhibit the transmission of pain signals from the facet joint. Facet joints connect the bones of the spine and guide movement. The medial branch nerves, located near the facet joints, relay pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. If a cervical facet joint or the cartilage and ligaments surrounding the joint become injured, patients may experience severe pain.
During a cervical medial branch block, a healthcare professional uses imaging technology, such as fluoroscopy, to insert a small needle near the medial branch nerve in a safe manner. Once the needle is correctly positioned, the local anesthetic is injected, leading to rapid and significant pain relief. The extent and duration of pain relief depends on the severity of inflammation in the affected area.
Patients who experience significant pain relief after a cervical medial branch block may be candidates for radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that provides more sustained disruption of pain signals and prolonged pain relief.
Indications for cervical medial branch blocks include cervical facet joint pain, which may present itself as muscle tension or severe pain that lasts longer than two months. The location of cervical facet joint pain is the area from the head down to the lower shoulder blade. Oftentimes, the pain is inadequately explained and poorly controlled by other therapeutic methods.