Patients who must deal with chronic, painful conditions such as arthritis, bulging or herniated spinal discs, or inflamed nerves may be a candidate for a procedure known as a targeted nerve blocks. This outpatient procedure is often performed by a pain management physician as part of their treatment plan for chronic pain conditions.
Why Nerve Blocks?
Anyone who has ever had a general steroid shot or taken a series of oral steroid pills probably knows that steroids are very effective in reducing pain and inflammation. The problem with steroid medications such as pills or a general steroid shot is that they are not a very good choice for managing chronic pain conditions long term. Eventually, their significant side effects outweigh any benefits patients might experience. This is why the medical community typically recommends nerve block treatments for those dealing with chronic, painful conditions. Nerve blocks offer very targeted treatment designed to block nerve pain signals in a specific area from reaching the brain. This allows physicians to treat painful areas without adversely affecting other parts of the body.
The Nerve Block Procedure
Most nerve block procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. If there are any medication, food, or drink restrictions, the medical staff should inform the patient prior to the day of the procedure. Some physicians may also require that the patient bring someone with them to the appointment to drive them home afterward.
The actual nerve block procedure typically takes only a few minutes. The patient will be positioned in such a way as to allow the physician to have visual access to the area targeted for injection. Using guided imagery, such as with a fluoroscope instrument, the physician will then visually identify the target zone. After cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution, the physician will insert the needle with the actual nerve block medication and deliver it as closely as possible to the painful area. They may repeat this same process in several other nearby sites as well. Often, a physician will use a steroid drug for administering the nerve block, but in some cases they may decide to use another type of drug.
Once the entire procedure is complete, the patient is allowed to rest for 15-30 minutes. If no adverse effects are experienced by the patient, they are allowed to go home. They will be provided with instructions as to when they can resume to their normal level of activities, as well as when to call a doctor if any injection-related issues should occur following the appointment.
If you would like to know more about nerve block procedures and whether they may be able to help you manage your pain, please contact us.