What are Medial Branch Block and Radiofrequency Ablation (Nerve Burn)?
Facet joints connect your vertebrae to each other in your neck and low back. These joints allow you to bend your neck and back forward and backward. Like any other joint, these can develop arthritis and can cause long-term pain in the neck or back. Often times they can affect your shoulders, upper back, buttocks, and legs.
Medial branch nerves are the nerves that carry many of the pain messages from your facet joints.
Radiofrequency medial branch ablation is a type of treatment that is used to relieve this pain. It uses radio waves to damage nerves in your neck and/or back so they can no longer send pain messages to your brain.
Before knowing if a nerve burn procedure will help you, Dr. Thomas Myers must do a medial branch block to confirm that certain nerves are the ones that are a source of your pain.
How is Medial Branch Block Done?
Dr. Myers will use a tiny needle to numb the skin where you will get the block. Then the block needle is inserted into the numbed area. You may feel some pressure, but you should not feel pain. Using fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to guide the needle, medicine is injected into one or more nerves to make them numb.
If you get relief from your pain in the next 4 to 8 hours, it's a sign that those nerves may be contributing to your pain and that the RFA treatment may relieve your pain.
It takes 20-30 minutes to get the block. You can go home afterward with an on the daily diary to record how much pain you have while at home.
How is Medial Branch Radiofrequency Ablation (Nerve Burn) Done?
Dr. Myers will use a tiny needle to numb the skin where the RFA need will enter the skin. You may feel some pressure. Using fluoroscopy, Dr. Myers will send radio waves through the needle for 90 seconds. The radio waves heat the nerves, which will damage them.
It takes 20-45 minutes to get an RFA (nerve burn), depending on how many nerves are heated. You will be able to go home within an hour post procedure.
Post RFA Expectations
The procedure is minimally invasive with no incision. Some patients may feel sore or tender at the injection site at first (icing this area help significantly). After a successful RFA, most people have pain relief right away. The full effect takes two to three weeks to set in. It often lasts for 6-18 months, but sometimes the pain relief is permanent. If your pain does return, it may mean that the damaged nerve has healed and can once again send pain messages.
NOTE: YOU MUST HAVE SOMEONE WITH YOU TO DRIVE YOU HOME POST PROCEDURE. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Contact us to schedule your initial medical management evaluation to see if these procedures may benefit you!