Nerve Root Blocks
Nerve root blocks are performed on patients having low back pain that often radiates down the leg. It comes from a compressed nerve root in the spine. It can often be caused from a herniated lateral disc. Nerve root blocks can relieve this pain temporarily if it is given directly into the area of damage.
Medical Branch Blocks
Medial branch blocks can be utilized for median nerve pain in the back or neck. Located at every spinal vertebral level is a small pair of joints called facet joints. They are sometimes referred to as zygapophyseal joints (Z-joints). There are two medial nerves associated with each facet joint, and their job is to carry signals away from the spine traveling up to the brain.
When Are the Blocks Preformed?
When patients are experiencing pain in the spinal area, a medial branch block is sometimes carried out to determine if these particular nerves are the root of the patient's pain. They are not responsible for controlling any major muscles, and they do not carry sensation for the arms or legs. Therefore, it is possible to block these nerves with no negative effect.
Physicians perform a medial branch block on the medial nerves as a diagnostic and treatment procedure to determine the area as the source of pain. If the blocking of these nerves solves the patient's problem, then it is determined to be the root of the problem. This may be enough to relieve the pain, or a more permanent procedure can be carried out. This procedure helps patients who are suffering with back pain caused by the median nerves.
The actual injection only takes a few minutes. The entire procedure usually lasts no more than thirty minutes. Afterwards, the patient is required to rest in the recovery area for another thirty minutes. The patient is then asked to reproduce some movements that would normally produce the spinal pain. If further pain control is needed, patients may then be evaluated for a radiofrequency neurotomy to treat the facet nerve pain.
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