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Everything You Need To Know About A Lumbar Medial Branch Block!

Date: February 3, 2022

What is a Lumbar Medial Branch Block?

A lumbar medial branch nerve block is a form of injection that is utilized to establish whether or not a patient's facet joint is causing their back discomfort.

Facet joints are tiny joints that connect the vertebrae at the rear of the spine. They are found in pairs between the vertebrae.

In addition to providing stability, the facet joints (also known as zygapophysial joints) also allow the spine to bend, flex, and twist.

Medial branch nerves, which transport pain signals from the facet joints to the brain, are found in each facet joint.

How is a Lumbar Medial Branch Block Done?

A local anesthetic and steroids injection is used to create a lumbar medial branch block, which is placed near the nerves that supply the affected joint just outside the affected joint.

If the pain signals from the joints are no longer being transmitted to the brain because the nerves have been "blocked" or "numb," the condition is known as neuropathy.

What Conditions Can Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks Treat?

A medial branch block alleviates back pain caused by a broken or inflamed facet joint, which can be pretty uncomfortable.

A facet joint is a bony structure that connects the spine's vertebrae. Facet joints aid in the regulation of spinal motion and the provision of extra support and stability to the vertebral bodies.

How Long Does a Lumbar Medial Branch Block Last?

Patients with medical branch block treatments often have significant pain relief that lasts for a few hours to a few days. In addition, the block technique is utilized to identify the location of the hurt facet joints in the patient.

Remember that the medial branch block is used as a diagnostic tool and not as a pain treatment (In most cases)

Do Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks Work Fast?

Medication can alleviate or eliminate discomfort in one region of your body or another, depending on the therapy you receive.

 It takes between ten and twenty minutes after administration for the medication to start working.

In Terms of Discomfort, How Painful is Lumbar Medial Branch Block?

Rapid and virtually painless, the medial branch block is a great way to relieve neck and back discomfort. It's done with the help of local anesthesia.

 Doctors will administer injections in the back while the patient is resting on their stomach. Doctors will keep track of a patient's vital signs, including blood pressure and oxygen levels.

After the injection site has been cleansed, the medial branch nerves will be injected by a doctor.

How Long Does it Take for a Lumbar Medial Branch Block Test to Be Completed?

clock on the wall to indicate how long a medial branch block takes

The test is estimated to take between ten and fifteen minutes to complete. You will be awake throughout the procedure and will be able to ask questions at any moment.

You will experience a return to your normal state of pain after that since the numbing medicine will wear off.

What Are The Risks Of Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks?

Listed below are some of the potential hazards and risks linked with an injection into the medial branch:

An allergic reaction occurs. The most common type of potential allergy is the X-ray contrast solution, with local anesthetic being less common.

Those who have a history of bleeding problems are more likely to have bleeding as a side effect.

Virus contamination less than 1% to 2% of all injections results in minor infections. Infections that aren't life-threatening are called "minor." Only around one in every ten thousand injections results in a life-threatening illness. This page about spinal infections might help you learn more about the condition.

While harm from the needle is extremely rare, it can occur due to direct trauma to the nerves or spinal cord or as a result of infection, hemorrhage that results in compression, or injection into an artery that causes an obstruction.

This injection should only be given to people who do not have any current medical conditions that would require them to stop taking a blood thinner.

Patients suffering from an active infection may be unable to have this procedure and should speak with their treating physician about their specific situation.

It's also vital for patients to tell their doctor if they have any pharmaceutical allergies, particularly to medications administered during the operation.

Consider the following information before having surgery:

  1. Please notify the office if you are currently taking antibiotics or being treated for an infection prior to your injection appointment.
  2. A local anesthetic injection will be administered to you. According to the researchers, pain relief is only likely to last 4–6 hours. It is unlikely that this procedure will provide considerable long-term pain relief.
  3. In this case, you will not be sedated, since you will need to remain awake and alert immediately following the procedure in order to accurately complete a pain diary form. On the day of your treatment, you will be handed your paperwork and instructed on how to complete it.
  4. There should be no weakness or numbness in your limbs. However, if at all possible, it is advised that you bring a driver to your appointment with you.
  5. On the day of your appointment, please avoid eating or drinking anything for 4 hours prior to your scheduled appointment time. You should be able to eat and drink immediately following your injection.

Instructions Before and After Administering the Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks Injection


You mustn't eat or drink for 4 hours before your scheduled appointment time on the day of your visit. You should be able to eat and drink immediately following your injection.

 If you usually take medications, you may take them with a modest sip of water on the day of your injection if you haven't already (check with your doctor first, however.)

Following that

The facet joints that have been injected should be numb for the next 4–6 hours. This period is an excellent time to engage in a few things that often cause you to experience pain.

Your medial branch block may need to be performed to confirm the results. We will go over this option in detail with you when we have assessed your specific situation.

Please remember that your medial branch block is only a temporary remedy and that your usual discomfort will most likely return within 24 hours after receiving your block.

How Effective Are Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks?

Medial branch blocks in the lumbar region have been shown to considerably reduce lower back pain and allow around 40% of patients to regain their mobility.

 According to most patients, therapy results in a 50% reduction in pain. But remember that this is a diagnostic tool and not meant to treat pain for long periods of time.

How long will I be able to stay awake throughout Lumbar Medial branch block procedure?

Anesthesia will be used to numb the area of your body that will be operated on following a nerve block. When it comes to being awake or sleeping, you often have the option to choose.

Because a big sterile drape is always placed between you and the surgeon, you will never be able to watch the procedure itself.

What Happens after Lumbar Medial branch block Procedure?

The next day, you will be taken to the recovery area, where you will be allowed to relax while being closely observed for a short amount of time, usually 30 minutes.

As soon as you are released from the hospital, you will need someone to drive you home.

Even though you can shower, you should avoid taking a bath for at least 48 hours. For the rest of the day, you should avoid any vigorous activities.

What Are the Results After Lumbar Medial Branch Block Procedure?

However, while some patients may have more prolonged relief than others, the majority of patients report that their low back pain is relieved for hours to several days after having their medial branch block performed.

If the cause of their low back pain is a facet joint, in this case, a lumbar radiofrequency ablation procedure is the next step in your search for relief from low back pain and discomfort.

In most cases, the number of medial branch blocks in a given location is restricted to three in a six-month time frame.

How Long Does it Take for Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks to Heal?

This varies from individual to individual. Some people may get instant pain relief, while others may need to wait up to two weeks for relief.

On the other hand, pain relief might last anywhere from a few days to many months, depending on the individual. Some people may not benefit from medial branch block in terms of pain relief.

Is it Safe to Drive After Lumbar Medial Branch Block?

On the day of the medial branch block, all modes of transportation are permissible, including aircraft travel (however, avoid driving for at least six hours after the medial branch block). And this is something to consider.

man driving a car with sunglasses on

Want to Know More About Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks?

If you live in the Phoenix area and have questions regarding lumbar medial branch blocks, please call Atlas Pain Specialists.

We will thoroughly examine your injuries and medical records to determine the best course to relieve your pain and restore your mobility.

Make a same-day appointment right away!

About Dr. Sean Ormond
Dr. Sean Ormond in black medical uniform and black fog background
Dr. Sean Ormond is dual board-certified in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Management. He completed his anesthesia residency at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio where he served as Chief Resident, followed by an interventional pain management fellowship at Rush University in Chicago, IL. Following fellowship, Dr. Ormond moved to Phoenix and has been practicing in the Valley for a few years before deciding to start his own practice.