When it comes to chronic back pain, the cause can sometimes be difficult to parse out, says Michael Grimaldi, MD, pain medicine physician with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute and LVPG Pain Specialists–Carbon.
“There are a multitude of possible causes of this common condition,” Grimaldi says. “As people age, they can get arthritis in the facet joints, small joints located at the posterior part of the spine. If we suspect that a patient’s chronic back pain is stemming from arthritis in this joint, we can do a medial branch block to confirm whether this is the case.”
After injecting local anesthetic under fluoroscopic guidance, pain management specialists assess the extent of the person’s pain relief from the block, which typically lasts around six hours.
“If pain is coming from those facet joints, we expect a significant improvement in the patient’s pain when they’re numbed up by the medial branch block,” Grimaldi says.