Facet joint Medial Branch Blocks are used as both the gold standard for diagnosing facet joint syndrome but are also therapeutic in their own right. The facet joints are important for spinal movement and stability. Inflamed or arthritic facet joints are a relatively common cause of spinal pain that often goes untreated. Facet joint Medial Branch Blocks are nerve blocks to the nerve that supplies the facet joint. Relieving the spinal pain by blocking the nerve with local anaesthetic can confirm the diagnosis of facet joint syndrome, thus enabling more definitive treatment if required and also avoiding further unnecessary investigations and surgery.
If the Facet joint Medial Branch Blocks are successful but only provide temporary benefit then radiofrequency treatment can be used for treating facet joint syndrome over a long period of time.
The procedure is performed in outpatient theatre and there is no need for an overnight stay. Fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance is used to ensure safety and accuracy. Patients can walk in and out within a few hours ensuring minimal time away from work and home. Physical therapy will then usually be recommended to help the patient rehabilitate and strengthen the muscles around the spine.