Everything You Need to Know About Nerve Blocks

Facing a nerve block as a treatment for pain or inflammation can fill many patients with dread. There are thoughts of big needles and a procedure that’s almost as painful as the condition. However, contemporary nerve block techniques aren’t like that at all. Consisting of local anesthetics and corticosteroids, nerve blocks often offer long-lasting relief that can reduce or eliminate your dependence on opioid medications.

Our providers at Atlas Neurosurgery & Spine know when a nerve block has the best chances for success. As experienced neurosurgeons, we’re familiar with the spinal anatomy that’s crucial to effective treatment. Contact the office to learn more about your suitability for nerve block procedures. Until then, here’s what you need to know about nerve blocks.

Nerve block background

A nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedure, nerve blocks inject medications below the protein sheath around nerve roots. Anesthetics are the main component, changing the way nerves in the area report pain. Sometimes, a block includes corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, but side effects of the steroids limit the number of combination injections you can receive annually.  

Nerve blocks provide temporary pain relief, but they last up to a few months, a marked improvement over daily oral medication. There’s also a diagnostic use for nerve blocks to predict the most effective location for an implanted spinal cord stimulator for long-term treatment of pain.

Fear of treatment

Though it’s largely unnecessary, the fear of needles makes the thought of nerve blocks stressful for many patients. Contemporary techniques reduce the treatment to about 30 minutes and use state-of-the-art medical imaging to locate the injection point. Many find the treatment itself virtually painless. If you receive steroids as part of your injection, it could be five days before they take effect, and you may have some soreness in addition to your treated pain. Additional medication may help you through this period.

Varying results

Since pain is a largely personal response, not everyone receives the same benefits from a nerve block. Sometimes, pain relief is immediate, while others require a series of injections. The length of time you’ve suffered from chronic pain could influence your results. Nerve blocks work best when there’s a single origin of pain. The sooner you start nerve blocks after identifying your pain as chronic, the better your chances for successful treatment.

Frequency of injections

If your initial nerve block treatment helps your pain level or reduces the amount of opioid medication you need, it could become part of your pain management plan. There’s little risk of complications with the procedure, and you can receive many injections over the course of your life if they continue to effectively relieve your pain. The only restriction is a limit of no more than three treatments a year if the formulation includes steroids.

Nerve blocks have several applications from managing chronic pain to delaying surgery. Contact our team at Atlas Neurosurgery & Spine at any of their three locations to discuss the possibilities and limitations of this therapy. Pain-free living may be a simple injection away. Call or click today. 

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If you're looking for a neurosurgeon in the Phoenix area, contact Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center for the ultimate neurological care.