What are Therapeutic Nerve Block Injections?
Nerve block injections are a therapeutic and deliberate method to block pain signals from reaching the brain and thus alleviating the perception of pain. Therapeutic nerve blocks include: Chemodenervation (Botox), Selective Nerve Root Block (SNRB) and Sympathetic Nerve Block. Nerve block injections are a medical procedure used to treat pain, as a diagnostic tool to identify its source, to predict the outcomes of a given treatment and to avoid invasive surgery. The injections can be anesthetic or anti-inflammatory in nature and are targeted toward a specific nerve or a group of nerves to treat pain.
Therapeutic nerve blocks are often used to treat persistent severe pain that is not easily managed by pain medications, lifestyle modifications or physical therapy. They are often used in place of major surgery, to avoid continue use of, or to reduce, the use of prescription pain-killer.
How do Nerve Blocks Injections Work?
The human body is composed of an intricate network of interconnected nerves which send signals to and from the brain. A stimulus can cause the body to send a ‘message’ from one part of the body going to the brain, so that the brain could react accordingly. Say for an instance when you touch a hot surface, the injured site will send signals to the brain so that the body will recognize that the touched surface is hot.
A variety of medical conditions can cause pain and it can be manifested into a variety of conditions such as: headaches, low back pain, neck or arm pain. Nerve block injections work by blocking the signal (in this context, pain) from a certain part of the body, with the use of a chemical that is either injected directly to the nerve or to its vicinity, so that the pain sensations are blocked or reduced.
Usually, a numbing medication (local anesthesia) is used in the site of administration. The procedure may be guided by fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance that uses a contrast agent to confirm needle placement. This ensures the needle is accurately inserted to the target nerve. This is also true for patients that would undergo a spinal nerve block, where the precise insertion of the needle is needed to avoid injury to other tissues and increase the success of the procedure.
Conditions Treated with Nerve Blocks
Nerve block injections are effective therapeutic management approach for conditions that involves severe and chronic pain. Conditions where nerve block are used include:
- Acute and chronic migraine and headache
- Pain brought about by certain cancer, such as in the pancreas
- Pain from nerve compression (such as sciatic nerve compression and carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Reduce pain due to physical injury
- Prevent localized pain due to surgery
- Pain due to decreased reduced blood flow and oxygenation to a certain part of the body (as in those with Raynaud’s disease)
Who is a Candidate for a Nerve Block?
Patients who are on prolonged suffering from severe and unmanaged pain conditions that are localized in a certain part of their body, particularly in the neck and lower back are potential candidates for nerve injections. Those whose activities of daily living affected by debilitating pain may also benefit from this procedure, as well as those who already developed tolerance to pain-killing medications.
There are various nerve injection methods that could be suitable for each individual. For example, a person suffering from chronic back pain may find relief in selective nerve root block. A sympathetic nerve block, on the other hand, may be beneficial for people with Raynaud’s syndrome or chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) among others.
Benefits of Nerve Blocks
Nerve blocks serve as an effective method in reducing and controlling pain among patients with chronic disease and conditions. Nerve block injections also support faster healing to the inflamed area. Together with the use of pain killing medications and physical and rehabilitative therapy, nerve blocks would allow patients to receive the benefit of a pain-free daily living to improve the quality of their lives.
What to Expect After a Nerve Block?
The goal of nerve block is to prevent or reduce pain. If the procedure is successful, this goal can be achieved and chronic or severe pain may be controlled. Depending on the method used, from 6 to 12 months patients may the procedure need to be repeated.
- Patients may experience pain on the site of injection after the numbing medication fades. Applying ice to the site of injection may help lessen any soreness.
- Nerve injections are usually done within a hospital, and the patient may be sent home within the day, if ambulatory, provided that there are no complications following the procedure.
What are the Risks of Nerve Block Injections?
There are a few risks associated with nerve block injection procedure. Bleeding and infection at the site of injection may occur. Nerve injections also pose a risk of hitting and injuring a wrong nerve, especially if nerves are close together.
Meet Our Neurologists
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of conditions where a therapeutic nerve block like: Chemodenervation (Botox), Selective Nerve Root Block (SNRB) and Sympathetic Nerve Block are used to treat chronic pain. Dr. Jordan, Dr. O’Connor, Dr. Chang, Dr. Shimizu and Dr. Franc all diagnose and treat patients with conditions where therapeutic injections may be used to reduce pain and/or increase functional ability. If you have a chronic pain condition make an appointment with one of our neurologists to determine if you are a candidate for therapeutic injections used to treat chronic pain conditions by calling 310-829-5968.