When Is a Nerve Block Recommended?

May 01, 2023
When Is a Nerve Block Recommended?
A nerve block is a minimally invasive injection of anti-inflammatory medication that provides fast, short-term relief for debilitating chronic pain conditions. Learn how it works, and when we might recommend it as part of your pain management plan.

Whether it takes the form of debilitating lower back discomfort, mobility-limiting joint pain, disruptive headaches, or trauma-related nerve damage, living with a chronic pain condition can undermine your energy levels, sap your vitality, and diminish your quality of life. 

While every chronic pain management plan is carefully tailored to match individual treatment needs and goals, many people affected by severe pain have one thing in common: Nerve blocks are a core component of their ongoing care. 

As a board-certified specialist who offers a complete scope of pain relief procedures at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates in Humble and Baytown, Texas, Dr. Okezie N. Okezie can use nerve blocks in different ways to help advance your care.

Here, Dr. Okezie discusses how a nerve block works to treat chronic pain, and explains when he may recommend one.

Nerve blocks for pain management

A nerve block involves the injection of a local anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroidal medication to deliver fast, short-term relief for debilitating chronic pain conditions. 

Also called a neural blockade, this minimally invasive pain management technique produces localized anesthesia — or loss of sensation in a targeted area — to effectively ease severe pain.

How it works

When we inject an anti-inflammatory medication directly into an area where a specific nerve or nerve bundle is sending ongoing pain signals, the medication blocks the targeted pain impulses and prevents them from reaching your central nervous system. When pain signals don’t make it to your brain, you don’t feel the pain sensations they’re trying to relay. 

Highly targeted

Many patients worry about receiving an injection so close to a source of chronic pain, but we use a local anesthetic to minimize needle discomfort, and when needed, IV sedation to help reduce anxiety and make the overall procedure more comfortable.

We also use real-time visualization technology like ultrasound imaging or a fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to pinpoint the problematic nerve and guide the injection with precision. Some nerve block procedures require multiple injections, but most are well tolerated and brief, lasting 5-15 minutes. 

When a nerve block is recommended

Nerve blocks are an exceptionally useful pain management approach in a wide range of circumstances. They can help you:

  • Relieve chronic (long-term) pain
  • Alleviate pain after surgery
  • Ease severe acute (short-term) pain

The treatment’s immediacy and lasting duration is its main advantage: The anti-inflammatory medication takes effect quickly and provides sustained relief for a few days to several weeks.

We recommend nerve blocks in two specific situations: When you want to avoid surgery and take an active role in physical therapy (PT), and when you need help diagnosing the source of your pain with more accuracy. Let’s take a closer look.

Continued treatment progression

When you’re dealing with chronic pain every day, the substantial relief provided by a nerve block can help you function better in your daily life, reducing your pain enough for you to work and perform daily tasks comfortably and with fewer limitations. 

More importantly, nerve blocks deliver effective, lasting relief that enables you to take an active role in physical therapy and other prescribed treatment modalities that advance your treatment progression and help you avoid surgery.

And just as importantly, nerve blocks allow you to access this pain-free space of active PT engagement without having to rely on potentially addictive pain medications like prescription opioids. 

Pinpointing the source of your pain

We also use nerve blocks as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint the source of your pain with more accuracy. When we inject the anti-inflammatory medication into a specific area, we can often determine which nerves are sending the pain signals that keep you in continued discomfort.

Ready to advance your treatment?

If you have severe, physically limiting pain that makes it difficult to make progress in PT and other treatment modalities, a nerve block can be an ideal assistive solution. Nerve blocks have been used to great effect to help manage:

If you need help for a severe chronic pain condition, our team at 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.