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Medial branch block FAQs

Learn more about medial branch block injections in these frequently asked questions.

Medial branch blocks are used exclusively to diagnose and treat pain stemming from your facet joints. This might include:

  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Trauma to the facet joints.
  • Inflammation of the synovium (a membrane made of soft tissue that lines the facet joints).
  • Spinal instability.

You might feel slight weakness or numbness in your back, arms, or legs for a short while after a medial branch block, but you’ll normally be able to walk and move freely soon after your injection.

Pain relief usually kicks in immediately when the local anaesthetic is administered to the medial branch nerve. The pain relief can last longer if you’re also given steroid treatment.

The most common side effect of a medial branch block is discomfort around the injection site. A small number of patients may also experience:

  • Infection
  • Nerve injury
  • Allergic reaction

These risks are very small when your medial branch block is performed by an experienced surgeon at a safe, high-quality clinic like Harley Street Specialist Hospital.

You might find your pain gets worse for a few days after a medial branch block. While it’s uncomfortable, this is an expected reaction to the swelling and inflammation caused by the injection. After a few days, the pain should start to subside.

If a medial branch block doesn’t give you effective pain relief, your doctor may recommend further tests to find the root cause of your pain. At Harley Street Specialist Hospital, we work with the UK’s largest pool of pain management consultants so we can discover and treat all types of back pain.

Medial branch block costs

Flexible Payment Options to Suit You

Payment Plans

Spread the cost of your medical treatment over several months with our finance options and medical payment plans. This is ideal for patients seeking the speed and comfort of private healthcare without significant upfront payments.


Use our self-payment options to get prompt care with the consultant of your choice. Patients looking for fast, efficient treatment without private health insurance are welcome to pay for treatment before their procedure.

Private Medical Insurance

We welcome patients with private medical insurance from approved insurers, including Bupa, AXA, Aviva, and many more. Find out how to claim for your treatment with private health insurance to get optimum care and comfort.

Private medical insurance we accept

Learn more about medial branch blocks

Find out more about medial branch blocks below.

Yes. A medial branch block usually gives substantial pain relief within 15 minutes, thanks to the local anaesthetic. Pain may return within a few hours after the treatment when the anaesthetic wears off.

If a steroid is given alongside local anaesthetic, you should experience longer-term pain relief when the medication starts working (normally after a few days).

Both facet joint injections and medial branch blocks are used to treat facet joint pain. But there is a difference: facet joint injections are inserted directly into the joint, while a medial branch block injects medication into the space surrounding the joint, near the medial branch nerves.

In addition, steroids are normally used for facet joint injections, while they’re not always included in a medial branch block. Ask your doctor what medication they plan to use for your medial branch block.

If you have back or neck pain and your doctor suspects this stems from your facet joints, you may be a candidate for a medial branch block.

However, some patients aren’t eligible for this treatment. This includes those who:

  • Take blood thinning medication such as warfarin or heparin.
  • Have certain allergies.
  • Have an infection (including those currently being treated for infection).

Diabetic patients may also be unsuitable for steroid treatments, as this can impact your blood sugar levels.

A medial branch block is mainly used for diagnosis, so it will usually only be given once (or perhaps twice if your doctors want to confirm the results). If the medial branch block is successful, another type of spinal injection or nerve block may be offered to give you longer-term relief.

Medial branch blocks can help with pain in multiple areas of the spine. Lumbar medial branch blocks are given in the lower back, while cervical medial branch blocks are given around the neck and upper back.

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