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facet joint injections vs. diagnostic medial branch nerve block

gsimmons03ggsimmons03 Posts: 3
edited 06/19/2014 - 5:32 PM in Spinal Injections
I had sudden onset of lumbar pain (L3-4-5) in early Jan. radiating into my hips, groin, and down the front of my right leg. Went for an epidural steroid injections, which brought pain level from a 10 down to a 3-4. ESI is wearing off and pain level is increasing. Went to Mayo in April for a more specific diagosis and was told by a Physiatrist that what I really need is an injection into my facet joints. I made an appointment with a pain specialist, who said he would do 2 diagnostic medial branch nerve blocks, and if successful, he would move on to radio frequency ablation. I flunked the first diagnostic test, only got about 50% relief. My husband thinks a step was skipped (facet joint injection) and that the wrong area is being focused on. Is there a difference between a facet joint injection and a medial branch nerve block? Or are they different terms for the same thing. I feel like a leaf dangling in the breeze with chronic pain that severely impedes my mobility, can't be on my feet for more than 2-3 hours per day and am on narcotic painkillers. Is anyone more familiar with the above-described procedures, and do they differ?



  • I think a facet joint injection and a medial branch nerve block are the same thing. I have had one recently, too. My PM said today that when the medial branch block works, you will know it. The result is dramatic. Mine didn't work, sadly. I'm now having trigger point injections and if these don't work he will move on to epidural steroid injections.

    I don't think your doctor missed a step. It usually goes 1) medial branch block and then 2) radiofrequency ablation, if result is positive.
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