Differences Between Medial Branch Blocks and Facet Joint Injections

Differences Between Medial Branch Blocks and Facet Joint Injections

Published: October 25, 2019

Differences Between Medial Branch Blocks and Facet Joint Injections

If you are suffering from back pain that is either arthritic or mechanical in nature, you may have heard that facet and medial branch block injections are often effective in treating these types of pain symptoms. But before you decide to pursue either of these treatments, you should know the differences between medial branch blocks and facet joint injections. That’s why our San Antonio, Texas pain specialists at the offices of Dr. Raul Martinez have compiled information on these non-surgical methods of joint pain treatment, which are also used as diagnostic tools. Read on to learn more from our expert pain management consultants.

What are Facet Joints?

Facet joints are small joints located at the back of the spine. They support and assist with the rotation and bending of the back. Arthritis or injury can cause these joints to become inflamed or irritated, resulting in joint pain symptoms. Irritated facet joints can lead to pain that radiates from the spine into other parts of the body, such as the buttocks, hips, and thighs.

Differences You Need to Know

A facet block consists of an injection of a mix of local anesthetic and steroid into a spinal joint. Medial branch blocks are similar and utilize the same medication, but the mixture is instead injected outside the joint space, near the nerve called the medial branch nerve. This nerve supplies the facet joint.

Diagnostic Functions of Facet and Medial Branch Block Injections

If the facet joints are blocked or numbed, pain signals to the brain may be blocked as well. If this happens, it means that a patient’s back pain symptoms are being caused by the facet joints. This is why facet joint injections or medial branch block injections are effective diagnostic tools.

Unlike facet block injections, medial branch block injections are generally diagnostic only. This means they do not provide long-term pain relief; rather, they are used to determine the cause of your pain.

Facet block injections, on the other hand, maybe used for either diagnostic or pain-relief purposes. However, for the purposes of diagnosing joint pain, medial branch blocks are generally considered more appropriate diagnostic tools.

Which Treatment Does Your Insurance Cover?

Determining whether facet or medial branch blocks are medically necessary must always be made on a case-by-case basis. Coverage of either procedure will depend on the circumstances of your case, and the details laid out in your insurance policy. However, in many plans, receiving more than two facet injections or medial branch blocks at the same level is often considered therapeutic rather than diagnostic, which may affect coverage.

Suffering From Back Pain? We’re Here to Help

If other procedures and treatments have failed to provide you with adequate relief from your back pain, Dr. Raul Martinez is here to help. Our Texas pain specialists in San Antonio are proud to offer our patients customized individual joint pain treatment plans utilizing the most effective therapies available today—including facet and medial branch block injections.

Our pain management consultants specialize in both surgical and non-surgical treatments, and we will tailor your treatment plan to your unique needs. We’ve helped hundreds of chronic pain sufferers, and we want to help you find relief so you can get your life back on track.

To schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, fill out our patient forms or give us a call today. To learn about other possible non-surgical treatment options for treating joint pain or back pain, click here.

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Published: October 25, 2019

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