What is a Medial Branch Block Injection?
A medial branch block injection is an injection of a mixture of local anaesthetic and hydrocortisone (steroid) around small nerves that take the pain messages away from the facet joints in your spine. The injection is targeted at the level(s) thought to be causing your symptoms.
The facet joints are small joints in your spine that help to stabilise your spine, whilst allowing movement. Facet joints can become painful following direct wear and tear, inflammation, or injury. This can occur at any level of your spine, but is most common in the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back).
Medial branch block injections are primarily a diagnostic tool to confirm that your facet joints are the generator of your pain. They also aim to provide you with a pain free window during which you can engage in a more optimal period of rehabilitation.
How do we do it?
Medial branch block injections are carried out as a day case procedure in an operating theatre. To minimize discomfort the injection is performed under sedation, which is administered by an anaesthetist. The injection needles are inserted into the correct position using x-ray guidance.
What Are the Risks?
There is a risk of infection at the injection site, but this is rare due to the use of sterile techniques.
Injection Site Discomfort
Following the injection you may have some localized soreness at the injection site, for which you can take some simple painkillers and it should settle over a few days.
Side Effects From The Injected Steroid
There are very few side effects when steroids are administered this way. Occasionally patients may notice some facial flushing, nausea, or mild abdominal cramps for a few days following the injection. There can also be a temporary disturbance to the menstrual cycle. Diabetics may find that the steroid alters their blood sugar control for a few days, so should monitor it closely.
An allergic reaction to injected steroid and local anaesthetic is incredibly rare. However, you must inform us of any know allergies before hand.
What Can I Expect Following the Injection?
You will normally be able to leave hospital once you are mobile. This is normally 2-3 hours following your injection. Normally we use a spray on dressing that requires no removal. Sometimes we use a small dressing that can be removed after 12 hours.
As you will have had sedation you will be unable to drive for 24 hours following the injection, and will need to arrange for someone to collect you from hospital. We would advise that you have a restful day the day after your injection, but it is important that you keep moving around and do not spend the whole day sitting or lying. On the second day following your injection try and take a few short walks, and on the third day you can return to normal activities and start to do some gentle exercise. There are no other restrictions following the injections.
Approximately 65% of patients have a good response following a medial branch block injection. However, the benefits are not always long lasting. The hydrocortisone can take a couple of weeks to have its full effect, so you may not notice an immediate benefit. These injections are not curative but aim to alleviate the pain that is preventing you from functioning normally. This provides you with a window of opportunity to gain long-term benefit from your subsequent rehabilitation.
Exercise is essential in the management of lower back pain arising from your facet joints, and it is important that you start to undertake exercise whilst you are pain free so that you gain the maximal long-term benefit. You will be referred to a physiotherapist following your injection.
Once you have seen the physiotherapist it is important that you find time to work on your exercises at home. The benefit from physiotherapy is gained from improving your muscular control and support. This requires regular work at home and will not be achieved by just turning up for your physiotherapy appointments. It is important that you build up any unaccustomed activity gradually. Any unaccustomed exercise is likely to cause you some muscular discomfort (especially the following morning) – this does not mean that you are doing yourself further harm.
You will be seen back in the clinic a few weeks after your injection. If you have had good relief then you need to continue with your exercises and consider other activities that may help such as Pilates, yoga, or swimming. If it has not been effective, or if the benefits have only been short lasting then other forms of treatment may need to be discussed. If you have a had a good period of relief which subsequently wears off, then you may be a suitable candidate for a further procedure called facet joint Rhizolysis or Denervation. This is where the nerves around which we injected for the medical branch blocks get cauterised to hopefully provide a more lasting period of relief. The medial branch blocks are a diagnostic procedure to see if you are a suitable candidate for this further procedure.
What Patients Say
Mr Langdon was excellent. He came recommended to me through a friend who knows him so I was always confident with his ability. He explained everything perfectly during the 1st assessment. The operation he performed on me was very successful and I am recovering well, and he also checked in on me after the operation a few times and talked me through the recovery. All in all, I’m very happy and satisfied. October 2020
Mr Langdon was brilliant from the start. I saw him at a different clinic first – but then the procedure was at Spire Harpenden. I feel he’s the best consultant I’ve seen in regards to my back – and I’ll certainly recommend him to friends and family for his outstanding knowledge and quick responses. October 2020
Displayed his knowledge perfectly with understanding my issue and needs. October 2020
I read about my consultant prior to booking my appointment with him as I felt he specialised in the treatment that I needed. He was very thorough and gave me lots of information about my procedure. He arranged for me to have my MRI scan ASAP and was booked in for my procedure very quickly. I have a follow up appointment with him in 2 weeks and hope to greet him with some positive results to my treatment. October 2020
First class. October 2020
Mr Langdon is kind, approachable and professional. November 2020
Explained clearly what would happen, good communication skills (eye contact, listened to me). November 2020
Excellent relaxed manner. November 2020
Mr Langdon is very attentive, understanding and patient I didn’t feel rushed at any stage. My decision was based on the straightforward and detailed information I received both verbally and written. Mr Langdon knows his stuff and I would without any hesitation recommend him 100%. I’m early recovery but I’m hopeful and confident that I will get my life back. Thank you James! November 2020
Very professional, willing to explain my questions and concerns. August 2020
Mr James Langdon was extremely helpful and informative. Fantastic bedside manner. July 2020
Mr Langdon has been fantastic. Not only, importantly, inspiring confidence, but practical and down to earth. He always ensured I had the opportunity to ask questions. Feb 2020
Extremely lucky to have Mr Langdon and his team, in every way so professional and so easy to talk with. September 2020
I had every faith in my consultant, that he was advising me and working in my best interest. September 2020
Mr Langdon is a caring person, listened to me and fully explained and discussed everything with me. I had complete confidence in him. September 2020
Once again a massive thank you to Mr Langdon and his team for their outstanding work and making the whole experience bearable. September 2020
I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for curing my pain. For months I have suffered in agony day and night. I was in despair and you were my last hope. Now I am not in pain! I am continually smiling and enjoying life again! March 2020
Mr Langdon was great from start to finish. I know that he saw me at the end of an already full clinic and on top of that arranged an immediate MRI…making him much later than he needed to be in getting home! I was in a great deal of pain and I very much appreciated his help in getting me sorted as fast as possible. He made sure I was early on in the running order of procedures on the day of my treatment and everything was explained well to me both before and afterwards. Cannot fault in any way. Thank you very much.
Very patient took his time explaining the surgery and aftercare. Very knowledge about my condition. Made me feel relaxed and in safe hands as I was very scared of the surgery itself and the possible risks.
Very caring, explained fully what was wrong and what he was going to do. December 2019
He was very professional and helpful before, during and after my minor treatment. December 2019
Mr Langdon was extremely helpful and reassuring. December 2019
Mr Langdon was clear and confident with his communication. This is reassuring for a patient. December 2019
Professional and treated to a high standard. Mr Langdon was excellent, he knew everything on my condition explaining all the options available. December 2019
Mr Langdon’s manner was very polite, professional and efficient, he answered all her questions and came to see her quickly after her epidural. June 2017
I have just completed a 102 mile walk over 7 days. Thank you so much for patching me up and making this experience possible. June 2017
Thank you for your specialist surgical and operational skills as well as your patient friendly approach. The two don’t always go together. We need people like you to maintain such high standards of surgery and care. October 2017
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and your team following my surgery. It has been so long since I felt so well and without pain. The surgery and my recuperation has far surpassed my expectations and has made a huge difference to my lifestyle. December 2017
Three months on from my back operation and I am feeling so much better. Thank you for all the kindness and support you showed when I was in such desperate pain. February 2018
Thank you so much for the work that you have done. What an incredible job you have and do. Life changing. March 2018
Thank you for all you have done for me during the last few weeks. I am most grateful not only for the main work but also the extras like telephoning to keep me informed. April 2018
I cannot thank you enough for the success of my back operation. Everyone was so pessimistic and you were so positive. May 2018
I was at all times given all necessary information, listened to, and I had confidence that Mr Langdon would complete the operation successfully. August 2018
Highly skilled and intuitive. October 2018
He was brilliant, I felt so comfortable that he would look after me even though I felt so anxious, and he made sure to give me all the information I needed. Also, every nurse and employee of Spire had nothing but brilliant things to say about Mr Langdon – I didn’t even need to ask. They would look on my notes and see I had Mr Langdon and say I was in excellent hands, and so I felt extremely happy. My partner also has disc problems so I will very much be pointing him to Mr Langdon October 2018
Very understanding and caring chap from start to finish, and a great bedside manner, unusual for some consultants. He is trying hard to understand my problems and working with me on a treatment plan for the present, and the future. November 2018
My consultant is obviously a very competent person and comes across as such. My procedure was fully explained both before and after my surgery. He also has a professional sense of humour, which helped as I was very nervous November 2018
Mr Langdon was always prepared to fully explain what was wrong and what he could do about it, he gave me a lot of confidence to make the decision to operate, and so far so good. Albeit early days. November 2018
Mr Langdon was very professional and helpful, he came in on his day off because my treatment had to be moved. November 2018
Excellent, extremely knowledgeable on his speciality. I managed to get an appointment to see him at very short notice for which I was very grateful. December 2018
Excellent surgeon, great manner, explained procedure well. December 2018
A good sense of humour, understanding and non-judgmental. They explained everything very clearly. January 2019
Mr Langdon, very professional and calm, did not push the treatment on me which I really liked, but advised and let me make up my own mind. January 2019
James Langdon is a really good person to have on your side. He’s smart, attentive and very dedicated. January 2019
I felt very safe with Mr Langdon, he fully explained the procedure, the risks and the recovery. January 2019
A very professional consultant. Showed great care and understood me as a person and patient. Saw me pre procedure and after in recovery room and own room. Visited again before going home in late evening and yet again first thing the next morning. It felt like I was Mr Langdon’s only patient which I know is far from the truth. Unfortunately, I am a nervous patient but could not have been in better hands. Many thanks January 2019
Explained everything in detail, understood my concerns, excellent bedside manner, very professional. January 2019
James Langdon is very patient – he answers questions and really listens to you and explains again if you haven’t quite got something. March 2019
Mr James Langdon was in every way, courteous, clearly good at his particular area of expertise, took time out every day to see me and check that all was ok. Was happy to answer any questions I had. April 2019
Mr Langdon was very understanding about my condition and talked me through every procedure that could help me get more mobile again. I was always at ease with him with his caring attitude. A true professional thanks. April 2019
Mr Langdon gave a full explanation of the procedure and what would happen and what to do afterwards. Perfect. May 2019
Fully informed by Consultant Surgeon and Consultant Anaethetist who put me at ease with procedure. May 2019
I saw Mr Langdon before I had the operation and he explained everything that would happen on the day of the operation. June 2019
Very attentive, understood exactly what I was saying and made me feel confident that what I was doing was the right thing. June 2019
Mr. Langdon gave you complete confidence that all would be well and that he was available if needed at any time. He showed kindness and consideration. June 2019
Calm, professional, helpful. July 2019
Everything went off so smoothly. So pleased that the operation was so successful & the next day I was able to walk around without pain. July 2019
In overall terms he was absolutely brilliant. Clearly he is a brilliant surgeon but also a wonderful and understanding human being who, whilst pointing out the risks involved in the operation, filled me with absolute confidence that if success was possible, it would definitely be achieved – and I am delighted to say that it was. He is certainly a hero to me! It was also abundantly clear that all the staff at the hospital have absolute confidence in him and hold him in the highest regard. August 2019
Excellent, he fitted me in with an early appointment and treated me extremely well. September 2019
Extremely helpful explained everything very clearly. September 2019
Mr Langdon has been very clear and concise about the treatment he would be providing and the possible outcome. He has a very professional manner and I felt very at ease with him. He provided me with lots of information and visited me numerous times after my operation to see how I was and to explain what was done and what I should expect. I would be very happy to see Mr Langdon again in the future should I have a need to. September 2019
Caring conscientious and totally professional in all respects. September 2019
Mr Langdon gave me the confidence to go ahead with surgery that I was very worried about. He is very professional and thoroughly explained all the pros, cons and side effects that could possibly happen. All of the above helped me to make a more informed decision. October 2019
James Langdon was the consummate professional. He explained his diagnosis in plain language that was easy to understand and interpret from a layman’s point of view. He was careful to manage expectations and clear about potential risks keeping them in perspective and proportionate to the circumstances. His manner was direct whilst always retaining a caring attitude listening to the patient and answering questions clearly; even taking time out to follow up with my wife whilst I was still in post Op recovery. Very thorough and I would highly recommend James. October 2019
Fully explained the treatment I required and the reasons why. I felt very confident I was in good hands. October 2019
Professional, inspires confidence. October 2019
He was very understanding explaining everything very carefully and advising me on altering medication for the procedure and when to restart normal regime. November 2019
He was courteous, listened, understood the issue very quickly. Explained everything well and was sure to confirm I understood and asked if I had questions. I didn’t feel hurried. He provided an effective and efficient service. I’d definitely recommend him. November 2019
Professional and approachable. November 2019
Extremely happy. Care was first class throughout the stay and looked after all my needs November 2019
Very approachable, caring, friendly, put me at ease. December 2019
Very approachable and knowledgeable. Felt I was in very safe hands. December 2019
Very professional throughout. December 2019
Mr Langdon diagnosed my problem, explained fully the options I had regarding treatment also all the risks involved if I chose to have an operation. Mr Langdon organised a scan to confirm his diagnosis, and explained to me prior to my operation all that was involved in the procedure. Post operation Mr Langdon visited me in my room to check on my recovery and gave me the opportunity to ask any questions on the operation. I am very satisfied with Mr Langdon and his team on my treatment. December 2019
My marks of 10 across all questions reflect my opinion of James Langdon. Brilliant in all respects, in particular his explanation to a non medical man of my problem and his solution. December 2019
The consultant was fantastic. He explained everything I needed to know at each stage and I felt very confident that I was in good hands. December 2019
Spire Harpenden Hospital
(01582) 714 304