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When is a Nerve Block the Best Solution?

Sep 01, 2019
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If you suffer from chronic pain, a nerve block may be able to help. Nerve blocks are effective and have few side effects. Read on to learn how they work and how they may be able to help you.

An estimated 20.4% of American adults — that’s 50 million people — suffer from chronic pain. Of those, some 19.6 million suffer from what is called high-impact chronic pain. That means they have persistent pain with substantial restrictions on their activity lasting for six months or more. It’s no wonder that chronic pain is associated with anxiety, depression, and even a dependence on opioids. 

Nerve blocks have long been used to provide anesthesia, as anyone who has ever had an epidural for childbirth can tell you. But, nerve blocks can also provide long-term pain relief. With regard to their use in treating chronic pain, the success of therapeutic nerve block treatments is impressive. 

In fact, in reviewing studies on patients receiving therapeutic nerve blocks for conditions that varied from severe headaches to cancer, 80-94% of patients experienced significant or complete pain relief. And in one study, more than half of the patients reported reducing their use of pain-relieving drugs after receiving nerve block treatments.

If you have chronic pain, the health specialists at Commonwealth Pain & Spine can give you a thorough evaluation and see if a nerve block can help you.

What is a nerve block? 

A nerve block is a medication that interrupts pain signals in the area it’s injected into. The medication can be injected into one nerve or a group of nerves. There are several areas of the body that can be treated with nerve blocks. These include the following: 

  • Face
  • Arms
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Buttocks

Each patient will have a different response to the treatments, but most can expect to achieve pain relief that lasts several weeks. 

When is a nerve block right for you?

The answer to this question depends on the source of your pain. If your pain is isolated to a single nerve or nerve group, then a nerve block can be very successful in relieving your pain. If your pain is widespread — originating from multiple nerves or nerve groups — then nerve blocks may not be right for you, or you may require a series of injections to experience relief. 

The providers at Commonwealth Pain & Spine are experts at diagnosing and treating chronic pain with nerve blocks. After a full examination, they can determine if nerve block therapy is right for you, and if so, where to apply the block. 

Will my pain relief be immediate?

Everyone responds differently, but many people do experience immediate relief. However, if your pain comes from multiple generators, you might require multiple injections, or you may only experience a reduction in pain rather than complete relief. Additionally, if you have had chronic pain for more than 10 years, it might require multiple injections for you to experience relief. For this reason, it is helpful to proceed with treatments before your pain becomes chronic. 

How long does it take? 

This procedure is done on an outpatient basis. Generally, you are given a sedative for the procedure. Your doctor will use a real-time imaging technique called fluoroscopy to ensure that the medication is injected into the right location. After the injection, you’ll remain in recovery until the medication takes effect. But once that happens, you can go home. You will need someone to drive you home if you have been sedated, and you might experience some soreness or bleeding at the injection site. Side effects, which are minimal, include the low possibility that the injection site could get infected.

To find out if nerve blocks can help treat your chronic pain, book an appointment over the phone with Commonwealth Pain & Spine today.