What is a cervical facet or medial branch?
Cervical facet joints are small joints about the size of the thumb nails located in pairs on the back of the neck. They provide stability and guide motion. If the joints become inflamed, they may cause pain in the head, neck, shoulders, down between the shoulder blades or in the arm. Medial branch nerves are the very small nerve branches that communicate pain caused by the facet joints in the spine. These nerves do not control any muscles or sensation in the arms or legs.
What are the cervical facet joint injection / Medial branch blocks?
Used as a diagnostic tool, the injections confirm if the facet joint is the source of your pain. When an anti-inflammatory steroid medication and local anesthetic is injected directly into the joint, this is called a facet joint injection. A medial branch block is similar but the medication is placed outside the joint space near the nerve that supplies the joint. The steroid shrinks swelling around the nerve roots and the local anesthetic numbs the inflamed areas. To ensure proper placement of the medication, the procedure will be performed under x-ray, also known as fluoroscopy.