The Use of Nerve Blocks in Pain Management

“Nerve blocks halt the pain messages coming from the nerves in a particular part of the body. They can help people who have chronic pain function better in their daily lives, allowing them to go to work, exercise, & do daily tasks. Nerve blocks are commonly used to manage pain that comes from the spine, as well as debilitating pain that affects the arms, legs, neck, & buttocks. Pain Specialists (doctors who have received extensive additional training & expertise in the field of pain management), administer nerve blocks to help sufferers manage or prevent many different types of pain” [1]

The Low Down

In a nutshell, a nerve block procedure involves the Pain Doctor injecting patients with specific medication which is designed block pain from specific nerves, and thus provide pain relief for an extended period of time. This simple pain management procedure can easily be done at a lunchtime, or on after work appointment; and the prior consultation can be done either in-person or on-line [1].

The Pain Specialist is likely to utilise low level electrical stimulation to locate the precise nerve, which is causing the pain. Moreover, they will often use an ultrasound, fluoroscope, or CT scan, in order to guide the needle with precision. The guided images and needles are used to inject anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving drugs around the site of a nerve (or group of nerves). As a result, the area in question becomes numb, or the inflammation is ameliorated [1].

Did You Know?

Pain Consultants use nerve blocks to provide immediate pain relief. They help patients manage: long-term or short-term pain; severe acute pain; and post-surgery pain. Of note, pain blocks can reduce irritation to the nerves, and thus allow them to heal [1].

So What Are The Different Types of Nerve Blocks?

•Sympathetic Blockade: a drug which blocks pain from the sympathetic nervous system in a specific area
•Neurectomy: surgical elimination of a damaged peripheral nerve
•Rhizotomy: destruction of the root of specific problematic nerves which extend from the spine
•Epidural analgesia or anaesthesia: injecting medicine outside the spinal cord
•Spinal analgesia or anaesthesia: injecting medicine in the fluid which surrounds the spinal cord
•Peripheral nerve blockade: injecting medicine around the specific nerve which is generating the pain [1].

After reviewing your medical history, asking you pertinent questions about your pain; conducting an examination, and undertaking any necessary tests and scans, your Pain Specialist will tell you which type of nerve block would be suitable for your specific needs.

[1]. John Hopkins Medicine. “Nerve Blocks.”