How Do Nerve Root Blocks Work?
11% of Americans suffer from chronic pain.
Many of them can have some relief from their pain with a nerve block procedure.
But how do they work? Do they make you unable to feel anything at all?
In this article, we’ll go over some of your most burning questions about the nerve block procedure. We’ll also let you know if it is something you might want to consider as a treatment option for yourself or a loved one.
What is a Nerve Block Procedure?
In essence, a nerve block procedure helps a doctor locate the source of your pain. It can also help the doctor control your pain.
Why Would a Doctor Perform a Nerve Block Procedure?
There are several reasons why your doctor might decide to do a nerve block procedure, aside from helping you live pain-free.
In some cases, a doctor may perform the procedure in order to locate which nerve is giving you pain. This is called a diagnostic nerve block.
A doctor may also perform one if he or she thinks you might need further surgery. This is called a prognostic nerve block. It helps the doctor determine if you need surgery on your nerve, or what else can be done to help alleviate pain.
What Does a Nerve Block Procedure Entail?
A nerve block procedure is performed in the outpatient setting. This can be done in the office without sedation or in the surgery center with sedation.
The doctor will then typically put a local anesthetic over the area that causes you pain. He or she will use an X-ray to help determine where the nerve is that is causing the pain. They may also inject a dye to help pinpoint the nerve.
After locating the nerve, the nerve will be blocked with a local anesthetic typically bupivacaine which is a long acting medication.
This will help the pain for a while. It will likely not fix the pain permanently, but it can help you manage it but more importantly diagnose where the problem is coming from allowing for more permanent procedures to take place to eliminate the pain
You will go home the same day unless.
How Long Does the Pain Relief Last?
The pain relief will initially last for about several hours. You will feel numb at the site of the injection.
Sometimes, patients can get much longer relief. This can last for a few weeks or months, or be permanent. The duration of the block can extended with the addition of steroids.
Your doctor will probably ask you to keep a pain diary after you’ve had the procedure. This way, you can let him or her know when you’ve been in pain after the procedure and how long it took for the pain to return.
What Happens After the Nerve Block?
If it isn’t your full treatment, your doctor will let you know the course of action. In some cases, this may mean you’ll have a second nerve block. Sometimes you may need to continue having them done to help mitigate the pain.
In other cases, the procedure lets the doctor know that you will need another procedure such as a radiofrequency ablation which destroys the nerve allowing for long term pain relief. If that is the case with you, he or she will schedule your surgery and you will have it done whenever he or she recommends is appropriate.
Are there Side Effects or Risks to a Nerve Block?
Any time you put something in your body, there are possible risks and side effects.
There are side effects and risks associated with a nerve block. Anytime a needle goes into your body, there is a risk of bleeding, infection, or damage to structures that are not meant to be injured. In addition, there is a risk of increasingblood sugar, rash, itching, soreness at the site. Your doctor will go over all of the potential side effects with you.
Depending on your health and what medication you’re taking, there may be additional side effects you should be aware of.
Should I Have a Nerve Block?
If you think you are a candidate for a nerve block procedure, speak to your doctor. Suffering from unrelenting pain can be depressing and difficult, and a nerve block may be able to offer you relief. A nerve block may also be able to tell a doctor that you need further treatment for your injury.
Either way, if your doctor decides to do a nerve block, the outcome will most likely have you in less pain than you were in.
For more information on pain relief, visit our blog.