Cervical facet joint damage can be extremely painful and debilitating. It is a common result of whiplash injuries such as those suffered in a car accident or fall. Cervical facet joints can also wear down over time and become increasingly problematic. It is important to diagnose cervical facet joint issues as soon as they present themselves, although it can be a somewhat difficult to do so.
Diagnostic Cervical Medial Branch Nerve Blocks
Unfortunately, X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans cannot show for certain if the cervical facet joints are the root cause of your neck pain. The only way to truly diagnose cervical facet joint damage is through a minimally invasive procedure where the nerves that transmit pain signals from the facet joints to the brain are temporarily blocked. The nerves involved in this process are called medial branch nerves.
To block the pain signals being transmitted from the medial branch nerves, a small amount of local anesthetic will be injected to block the medial branch nerves from sending pain signals in one or more cervical facet joints. The doctor will assess your pain before and after the procedure. The procedure may need to be a repeated to confirm the results with greater accuracy.
Cervical Medial Branch Nerve Block Treatment
Cervical Facet Joint injections can also include a steroid medication in addition to, or in place of, the local anesthetic. This is usually done to help the patient complete rehabilitation exercises during physical therapy, as well as to provide relief and help increase mobility by dulling the pain sent by the medial branch nerves. The steroidal medication, cortisone, will help decrease inflammation and provide longer lasting pain relief.