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All Posts Tagged: Pain

Medial Branch Blocks to Treat Lower Back pain

   Medial branch blocks may be another alternate to epidural steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections are not always helpful for the treatment of low back pain.  Patients may describe transient or minimal relief with a block or block series.  Many times epidurals do not improve back pain because they do not target the true source of a patient’s pain, such as inflammation or degeneration within the facet joints of the spine.  This condition is called Facet Disease, Facet Syndrome, or lumbar spondylosis. Patients will typically complain of pain at or above their waist that does not radiate into their legs (or that radiates above the knee). Facet Disease can often be seen on imaging such as MRI, CT scans, or X-rays and can also be suspected after a physical exam done by your provider.  However, the diagnosis of facet disease is confirmed by facet blocks or medial branch blocks.

Medial Branch Blocks

    Medial branch blocks are a series of three procedures administered to diagnose and treat Facet Disease. The first two procedures involve injections using a medication, such as lidocaine, to numb the nerve that supplies the painful joint. Relief is usually short lived, but if pain is diminished this is a diagnostic indicator of Facet Disease. The third procedure in the series is called a radio frequency ablation, or medial branch radio frequency ablation.  With this procedure, instead of only numbing the nerves to provide temporary relief, we will heat them so the nerve cannot properly signal to the brain that there is pain. This should provide more long-term pain relief and patients can expect results to last anywhere from 6 months to a year.

Talk with your provider to see if medial branch blocks could be beneficial in treating your lower back pain.

At Cahaba Pain our team of providers are highly trained regarding this procedure and would love to discuss the benefits of this treatment with you.  

For more details on this procedure, please click here.

Natalie Chism, CRNP & T. Wade Martin, MD

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Is Smoking Hurting Your Pain Recovery?

There are some lifestyle choices that can increase pain in patients. Smoking, for instance, can intensify pain. Smokers tend to report higher pain scores and more impairments to daily functions than nonsmokers (Mekhail et al., 2018). Smoking can also delay healing, worsen bone health, and weaken discs in the back (Mekhail et al., 2018). Along with these reasons, we also know that smoking causes significant harm to the lungs and increases the risk of various cancers.

We all know smoking is bad for your body and those around you. How can I quit? We can work with you in this journey. The quitting process truly is a journey. It is a marathon and not a sprint. There are several tools to help. Medication, like nicotine patches and Chantix, are very helpful. Also, there are free apps available for download on your phone. We recommend counseling along with medication therapy. An accountability partner for encouragement, is always helpful.

Stopping smoking is a hard decision to make, but a step in the right direction for health and decreasing pain. If you are ready to quit smoking, please let us support you in taking that first step in this marathon.

Emily Walker, CRNP


Mekhail, N., Azer, G., Saweris, Y., Mehanny, D. S., Costandi, S., & Mao, G. (2018). The impact

of tobacco cigarettes smoking on spinal cord stimulation effectiveness in chronic spine-

related pain patients. Reg Anesth Pain Med, 43(7), 768-775. doi:


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DEA Drug Take Back Day in Alabama October 27th

courtesy: https://takebackday.dea.gov/

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

Multiple sites in Alabama will be participating on October 27th from 10am-2pm.

Click here to locate a collection site near you!

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