How Do Nerve Blocks Work and How Long Do They Last?

Dec 16, 2022
How Do Nerve Blocks Work and How Long Do They Last?
If you have chronic or severe pain that drains your energy, limits your mobility, and impairs your physical function, a minimally invasive nerve block can provide instant, short-term relief. Find out how it works and when you should consider it.

No matter its underlying cause, living with a chronic pain condition can be mentally exhausting and physically debilitating. You’d do almost anything to ease it for good, but you don’t want to have surgery if there are more conservative treatment options that might be just as effective. 

As a pain management expert who specializes in providing minimally invasive, long-lasting solutions for a multitude of persistent pain problems, board-certified interventional pain specialist Dr. Okezie N. Okezie offers a full scope of pain relief procedures at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates in Humble and Baytown, Texas. 

Let’s explore how nerve blocks work, when they’re a good treatment option, and how long you can expect one to last. 

Understanding nerve blocks

A nerve block, or neural blockade, is a pain management technique that produces localized anesthesia — or a loss of sensation in a targeted area — to effectively control or manage pain. 

Nerve block treatments can be surgical or nonsurgical; here at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates, we offer minimally invasive, nonsurgical nerve block injections to provide pain relief for chronic pain conditions that haven’t responded to other therapies and pain management techniques.

How do nerve blocks relieve pain?

A minimally invasive nerve block injection delivers anesthetic medication directly to the area around a problematic nerve or nerve bundle. This medication works to prevent the targeted nerve impulses from reaching your central nervous system, effectively cutting off the signals that make you feel pain.  

 To perform a nerve block injection, Dr. Okezie uses real-time visualization technology like ultrasound imaging or a fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to pinpoint the problematic nerve and guide the injection with precision. He may recommend an additional injection of anti-inflammatory medication in conjunction with the local anesthetic to help any damaged nerves heal.  

Often, nerve block injections are part of a comprehensive pain management plan. To promote healing and long-term pain relief, yours may be prescribed in conjunction with other effective strategies like physical therapy, massage, and lifestyle changes.  

Is a nerve block right for me?

A nerve block can help manage chronic (long-term) pain, pain after surgery, or severe acute (short-term) pain. The treatment’s immediacy is its primary benefit: The anesthetic medication takes effect instantly, and provides sustained relief for a period of time. 

If you have a chronic pain condition, a nerve block injection can help you function better in your daily life, reducing your pain enough for you to exercise, return to work, and perform daily tasks comfortably and with fewer limitations. 

Dr. Okezie might recommend a nerve block if your pain is severe, physically limiting, or hasn’t responded well to other pain relief medications or therapies. It can be part of a treatment plan for pain caused by: 

Dr. Okezie can also use a nerve block as a diagnostic tool to better pinpoint the exact source of your pain problem: By injecting anesthetic medicine into specific areas, he can determine which nerves are sending the pain signals that keep you in perpetual discomfort. 

How long does a nerve block last?

Although nonsurgical nerve block injections can offer longer-term relief by reducing nerve irritation and allowing nerves to heal, they’re considered a short-term solution. Depending on the nature of your pain condition and body’s physical response to the anesthetic medication, your nerve block may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. 

Some people may need repeated nerve block treatments to manage inflammation and pain while they work through long-term pain management solutions like physical therapy. 

If you’re ready to find lasting pain relief and get on with your life, Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates can help. Call your nearest office in Humble or Baytown, Texas today, or click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Okezie any time.