The experienced team at Apex Pain Specialists offers many types of nerve blocks, allowing them to alleviate pain caused by a vast range of health problems. Here’s the information you need to help you decide if you might benefit from a nerve block.
Nerve blocks serve two roles
A nerve block is an injection that targets a single nerve or cluster of nerves, like a spinal nerve root. When performing a nerve block, we use real-time imaging such as fluoroscopy (a type of X-ray) to guide the needle to the nerve. Then we inject a local anesthetic, with or without a steroid medication, depending on the purpose of the injection.
Nerve blocks serve two purposes:
Diagnostic nerve block
If the anesthetic quickly relieves your pain, the nerve block verifies that the treated nerve is the source of your pain. Then we can recommend other procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation, that target the same nerve and produce long-term results.
Therapeutic nerve block
The purpose of a therapeutic nerve block is to relieve your pain. The anesthetic immediately eases your pain by blocking nerve signals, while the steroid reduces painful inflammation.
When to consider a nerve block
Your treatment should always begin with conservative therapies that fit your diagnosis. For most people that means medication management, exercise or physical therapy, steroid injections, or regenerative medicine such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.
If your symptoms don’t improve with conservative treatment, it’s time to consider a nerve block. You may also need a nerve block as part of your conservative treatment. For example, if pain prevents you from participating in physical therapy, a nerve block helps you get the treatment you need.
Conditions treated with nerve blocks
We can use nerve blocks to manage acute and chronic pain, cancer pain, and pain after surgery. Nerve blocks can target any nerve in your body, allowing them to stop pain caused by nearly every underlying condition.
There are many different nerve blocks and each one is named according to the body area or type of nerve it targets. Here are a few examples:
Peripheral nerve blocks
Peripheral nerves carry pain messages from all areas of your body to your brain. These are a few examples of peripheral nerves blocks and the conditions they treat:
- Occipital nerve block: Migraines, cluster headaches, and occipital neuralgia
- Intercostal nerve block: Pain originating in your back, chest, or upper abdomen
- Trigeminal nerve block: Pain in your face, nostrils, lips, and jaw
- Genicular nerve block: Pain originating in your knees, such as arthritis and ligament injuries
The anesthetic in your nerve block stops the nerve from sending pain signals. As a result, your brain doesn’t get the message, and you don’t feel the pain.
Sympathetic nerve blocks
Your sympathetic nerves control essential functions like circulation, digestion, and sweat production. These nerves run along both sides of your side, branching off as needed to reach the appropriate organ.
Sympathetic nerve blocks include a stellate ganglion block, lumbar sympathetic block, hypogastric plexus block, and celiac plexus block. They treat conditions such as:
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Nerve pain in your chest, neck, and arms
- Lower back and leg pain
- Peripheral artery disease
- Pelvic pain
You may also need a sympathetic nerve block to relieve pain caused by pancreatic, stomach, and liver cancers.
Medial branch blocks
The medial nerves carry pain messages from the facet joints connecting spinal vertebrae to your brain. We perform medial branch blocks in any part of your spine to relieve the pain of arthritis.
Nerve root blocks
This type of block targets the nerve roots in your spine. A nerve root block eases neck, back, arm, and leg pain that occurs when herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease lead to inflamed and pinched spinal nerves.
Nerve blocks are one of our most versatile interventional procedures. If you need pain relief, call Apex Pain Specialists, or book an appointment online today.