Patient Guide to Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks and Radiofrequency Ablations
Pain Management for Chronic Back Pain
Patient Guide to Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks and Radiofrequency AblationsAdmin2023-11-13T10:00:09-05:00
Pain can result from injury, illness, inflammation, or nerve damage. Back pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages and can result from various factors, including muscle strains, injury, and arthritis. Lumbar medial branch blocks (MBB) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are minimally invasive pain management procedures that can provide significant pain relief for patients suffering from chronic back pain.
You may be a candidate for an MBB or RFA if you have chronic back pain that has not responded to other treatments. Chronic pain is an ongoing pain that lasts for three months or longer. More than just an inconvenience, chronic pain can be debilitating and affect your work, family, and daily activities.
Lumbar medial branch nerves are small nerves that carry pain signals from the facet joints in the lower back to the brain. Facet joints are small joints that connect the vertebrae in the spine and allow for movement of the back. Medial branch nerves do not control any muscles or sensations.
What Are Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks?
Lumbar medial branch blocks are injections of local anesthetic and a corticosteroid medication that temporarily numb the medial branch nerves and reduce pain from the facet joints. This procedure is often helpful in diagnosing the source of back pain and determining if radiofrequency ablation of the medial branch nerves is likely an effective treatment.
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)?
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that uses radio waves to heat and destroy a small area of nerve tissue, which prevents the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain. RFA is often used to treat chronic pain from a variety of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and joint pain.
When Are Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks and RFA Used?
Lumbar medial branch blocks and RFA are most commonly used to treat chronic back pain typically resulting from facet joint degeneration. Facet joint degeneration is when the facet joints break down over time, leading to inflammation and pain.
Lumbar medial branch blocks and RFA may also be used to treat back pain caused by other conditions, such as:
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that you can go home the same day.
Lumbar Medial Branch Block Procedure
The physician uses a fluoroscope (a live X-ray machine) to guide a thin needle to the medial branch nerve to perform a lumbar medial branch block. Once the needle is in place, the physician will inject a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid medication.
Most people recover from a lumbar medial branch block within a few hours. Furthermore, the duration of relief from a medial branch block can vary, typically from several weeks to a number of months.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Procedure
RFA is performed in a similar way to a lumbar medial branch block. However, instead of injecting a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid medication, the physician inserts a radiofrequency probe through the needle. The radiofrequency probe is then heated to a high temperature, destroying a small nerve tissue area.
Recovery from RFA may take a few weeks as the nerve tissue heals; however, the pain relief can last up to a year or more.
What To Expect After Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks And RFA
Both MBB and RFA procedures can provide significant relief from back pain and help improve the patient’s quality of life. However, only your doctor can determine if lumbar medial branch blocks, or RFA, are the right treatment for you.
After a lumbar medial branch block, you may experience some temporary numbness and weakness in the lower back and leg, which is normal and typically resolves within a few hours.
After RFA, you may experience some temporary pain and swelling at the injection site. There may also be some increase in back pain for the first few days. However, most people experience significant pain relief within a few weeks of RFA.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including lumbar medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablations. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.