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August 17, 2023
Nerve Blocks for Chronic Pain

Nerve blocks are a common form of therapy used to treat and manage chronic pain. Groups of nerves that cause pain to a particular region or area of the body can typically be blocked via injections of medication also known as nerve blocks. These nerve blocks are numbing substances that numb the nerves signaling a patient’s pain. 

nerve blocks for chronic pain

Nerve Block Injections for Chronic Pain Management

Four Categories Of Nerve Blocks for Chronic Pain

Nerve blocks are typically categorized into four main categories. These four nerve block categories include: therapeutic, diagnostic, prognostic, and pre-emptive. 

  • Therapeutic nerve blocks are used to treat chronic pain and various pain conditions. These nerve blocks typically contain local anesthetic which can be used to treat acute pain. Studies have shown these nerve blocks effectively improve the quality of life for patients with chronic pain. 
  • Diagnostic nerve blocks are issued to identify the source of a patient’s pain. These blocks contain a lower level anesthetic that provides a duration of pain relief. 
  • Prognostic nerve blocks identify the prognosis of certain treatments. For example, a prognostic nerve block may be issued to determine if a permanent solution, such as surgery, would be a more successful route to alleviate the patient’s pain. 
  • Preemptive nerve blocks are unique in that they are used to prevent subsequent pain often seen as the results of a procedure. This includes symptoms such as phantom limb pain. 

Nerve blocks are also broken down into more specific categories based on the type of pain or location of pain that the patient is experiencing. These specific nerve blocks are sympathetic, stellate ganglion, and facet joint blocks. 

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks are performed to determine if there is existing damage to the sympathetic nerve chain. This includes a network of nerves that run the entire length of the spine and are responsible for controlling the body’s involuntary functions. 
  • Stellate ganglion blocks are a type of sympathetic block that are also used to identify damage to the sympathetic nerves. However, stellate ganglion blocks are used more specifically to identify nerve damage to the head, neck, chest, and arms. 
  • Facet joint blocks are conducted in the facet joints of the spine and are also known as zygapophysial blocks. These are used to determine whether a facet joint is the cause of pain. 

Nerve Blocks by Location

Nerve blocks can be injected in various areas depending on the cause and location of a patient’s pain. Some of the most common nerve blocks by anatomical location include…

  • Trigeminal nerve blocks for Trigeminal Neuralgia (face) 
  • Subarachnoid and Celiac nerve blocks (abdomen and pelvis)
  • Supraorbital nerve blocks (forehead)
  • Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar epidurals (neck and back)
  • Maxillary nerve block (jaw) 

Side Effects of Nerve Blocks

While studies have shown that nerve blocks can be highly effective in treating chronic pain, side effects are always possible. Everyone’s body reacts differently to medical treatments, but common side effects may include soreness at the injection site, rash, itching, bleeding, elevated blood sugars, and extra energy. While this may not happen to everyone, it is important to contact your doctor if you begin experiencing side effects outside of what is considered normal or if you’re experiencing anything causing concern. 

Nerve blocks are specifically for patients with nerve damage or neurological conditions such as Trigeminal Neuralgia or chronic back pain. Patients who do not have nerve damage may not see the results from nerve blocks. However, patients experiencing chronic pain from nerve damage can benefit greatly from nerve blocks. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you think that nerve blocks may be the best option to treat your chronic pain. 

The team of Progressive Pain Management specialists help treat various conditions that can benefit from these types of nerve blocks. Fill out the form below to get started.

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October 25, 2022
Understanding Permanent and Temporary Nerve Blocks

Many people battle constant pain; for many, pain relief medications are no longer enough. Depending on the cause of the pain and your medical history, your doctor may suggest a nerve block to provide long-term relief and improve your quality of life.

Doctors use nerve block injections as a palliative and therapeutic management of chronic pain, but they can also be helpful for diagnosis and prognosis. It can be beneficial as a treatment to avoid surgery.

What is a Nerve Block?

Every part of your body has a system of nerves that send pain signals. To stop these pain signals, your doctor may decide to block the signaling nerve.

nerve blocks for chronic pain

Permanent and Temporary Nerve Blocks for Chronic Pain

A nerve block is a procedure that disrupts nerve activity where a physician blocks pain signals by injecting medications into the set of nerves, causing discomfort.

The procedure can help people with chronic pain conditions improve their quality of life, allowing them to exercise, work and perform their day-to-day tasks

A nerve block effectively prevents, reduces, and manages pain, producing short or long-term pain relief.

Nerve blocks can help manage;

  • Chronic pain conditions like sciatica, arthritis, and herniated disc pain
  • Severe or acute pain
  • The pain due to surgery

Types of Nerve Block Treatment and Their Differences

Nerve block treatment can be temporary or permanent;

Temporary nerve block

The procedure involves your doctor injecting medicines like steroids, anesthetics, or opioids into the affected nerve to block pain and inflammation.

A temporary nerve block can help manage pain during a surgical procedure, and it is also helpful during childbirth to block labor and delivery pain. The most common example of nerve block is epidural given during childbirth.

Permanent nerve block

Permanent procedures can either be surgical or non-surgical. The doctor will inject alcohol, phenol, or thermal agents directly into the nerve to damage the nerve pathways if they opt for a non-surgical permanent nerve block.

A surgical nerve block involves a neurosurgeon removing or selectively damaging certain parts of a nerve.

Surgical nerve block procedures include;

  • Neurectomy which is the surgically damaging of a nerve
  • Rhizotomy; involves surgically destroying nerve fibers responsible for sending pain signals to the brain.
  • Sympathetic blockade

The differences between the two treatment procedures are;

  • A permanent nerve block involves damaging or removing the nerve sending pain signals to a specific area, while a temporary nerve block blocks the nerve for a particular period.
  • A permanent nerve block is irreversible, while a temporary nerve block is reversible.

What to Expect During a Non-surgical Nerve Block Procedure

The procedure requires needles, fluorescent light, and ultrasound to guide the needle properly. Your doctor may also use low-level electrical stimulation to locate your pain.

The doctor will first numb the skin before the procedure and inject the medicine into the nerve or a group of nerves. The injection numbs the area and reduces pain and inflammation.

Get Help From Progressive Pain Management

Visit our website to learn more about pain management. Better still, contact us by filling out the form below to schedule a consultation with our pain management doctors if you suffer from chronic pain.