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What are nerve blocks?

Nerve blocks are injections that temporarily block the nerve signals to the brain to alleviate pain. The injections help diagnose and treat nerve-related pain conditions.

In addition to providing pain relief, a  nerve block can help identify the nerve causing pain. This in turn can assist the physician to determine a more permanent solution to a chronic pain condition such as Radiofrequency Ablation.

The diagnostic role of a nerve block

Nerve blocks help diagnose and treat chronic pain conditions that involve the spine. It is one of several non-surgical treatments for spine and joint pain.

What happens during a nerve block?

The specifics vary, depending on the type of nerve block. All nerve blocks are an outpatient procedure a physician performs using fluoroscopic X-ray imaging.

The physician

  • injects a local anesthetic to numb the area.
  • inserts a needle around the nerve
  • administers a contrast material to ensure proper placement,
  • injects the medication

After the nerve block, the person would be sent to a recovery area for monitoring and then discharged home. They cannot drive after the procedure and need someone to drive them home to rest.

What are some types of nerve blocks?

There are many types of nerve blocks. Each nerve block addresses specific sources of pain.

  1. Cervical medial branch block
  2. Cervical facet block
  3. Lumbar facet block
  4. Stellate ganglion block
  5. Sympathetic nerve block

For each nerve block, an anti-inflammatory medication is injected, anesthetic, or both into the area surrounding the inflamed nerve to reduce inflammation and alter the pain signal.

How long does pain relief last?

A few hours to a few days

There may be an immediate improvement in pain following a nerve block. The length of pain relief may vary.

A nerve block may last a few hours to a few days.