Medial Branch Nerve Ablation Therapy

Medial branch nerves are small nerves that feed out from your facet joints (joints located between and behind adjacent vertebrae) in the spine and carry signals from those joints to the brain. Medial Branch Nerve Ablation is an injection process in which a heat lesion is created on specific nerves surrounding the medial branch nerves in your spine to disrupt their ability to send pain signals to the brain.

This procedure is performed in an outpatient setting. The treatment is done with local anesthesia along with IV sedation when needed. Before the procedure begins your physician starts by cleaning the skin over the injection site and injecting a local anesthetic to numb your skin.

Another needle is placed through your numb tissue and the entire procedure is performed using fluoroscopy (x-ray guidance). When the needle is in the correct location, an electrode is introduced into the center of the needle. Stimulation is initiated first with sensory stimulation and then with motor stimulation. When the correct needle position is verified, local anesthetic and sometimes a steroid medication is injected.

Radiofrequency Thermo-Coagulation– The electrode is heated to 50-80°C and kept at that temperature for several minutes. Electro-thermal heat is generated, which allows for destruction of surrounding pain fibers, thereby decreasing your pain.

A Medial Branch Nerve Ablation Therapy will only be performed if you have the appropriate duration of pain relief after a Medial Branch Nerve Block.

Who is a candidate for Medial Branch Nerve Ablation?

  • People who suffer from pain or tenderness in the low back
  • People whose pain increases with twisting at the waist or extending the lower back
  • People whose pain moves to the buttocks and hips or the back of their thighs (usually a deep, dull ache)
  • People who experience difficulty with certain movements such as standing up straight
  • People who have difficulty rotating their head
  • People who suffer from headaches, shoulder, and neck pain
  • People for whom traditional treatments have failed

Benefits of Medial Branch Nerve Ablation:

  • Rapid pain relief
  • Improved mobility
  • Minimally invasive
  • Non-surgical
  • Out patient procedure (no hospital stay)

Risks of Medial Branch Nerve Ablation:

  • Local bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Superficial burning pain or hypersensitivity

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