Nerve block FAQs
May 13, 2020
Nerve blocks are a treatment option for our patients who experience severe chronic pain. The blocks involve an injection of local anesthetic and steroid directly to the area of the affected nerve to help with pain management. The goal is to improve function and quality of life.
In this post, we will answer some FAQs about nerve blocks and share information to help you know what to expect if you are having this procedure.
Frequently asked questions about nerve blocks
What are nerve blocks? Nerve blocks are a treatment option that involves disrupting pain signals in nerves before the brain has a chance to process that pain. We do this by injecting a special medicine around the nerve, essentially “blocking” pain transmission.
What does a nerve block do and how will it help? A nerve block can function in two ways. First, diagnostic nerve blocks help us pinpoint what is causing certain pain and determine the best treatment. Secondly, therapeutic nerve blocks provide prolonged pain relief and prevent pain from reoccurring in the same part of the body in the future.
What happens during the procedure? Most likely, you will stay awake for a nerve block. We use a local anesthetic, then a fluoroscope X-ray helps us gently guide the needle to the right spot. This is important for complete accuracy and safety. We inject pain-relieving medicine into the affected nerves. It only takes about half an hour to fully recover from the treatment, and then you will be dismissed to go home. A little soreness at the injection site of the nerve block is normal, and this will diminish within a few days.
What do outcomes look like? The overall goal is to decrease your pain, whether that means learning more about your pain and finding appropriate treatment, or actually treating the pain through the nerve block itself. Many patients also experience improvement in other areas, such as:
- Increased functional status
- Decreased opioid usage
- Increased ability to perform physical therapy
- The ability of other maintenance or preventative modalities
Will I only have one injection? As with all medical procedures, different patients may respond differently. It may take up to a week before you experience full pain relief and other benefits. Whether or not you have multiple injections will depend on your medical history. You may be able to repeat the procedure from three to six times in a 12-month period. We will determine the exact number of injections that you need and can receive. The process of multiple pain blocks can be beneficial in making sure your pain symptoms do not return.