What are Nerve Blocks?
Nerve Blocks, is a general term used to refer to the injection of local anesthetic (with or without steroids) onto or near nerves for temporary control of pain. It can also be used as a diagnostic tool to identify specific nerves as pain generators. Permanent nerve block can be produced by destruction of nerve tissue.
Nerve blocks can help patients who suffer from lower back pain, neck pain, sciatica (from a herniated disc), shingles, cancer, and painful peripheral vascular disease. It can also be used in the treatment of chronic face pain, dental pain, temporomandibular disorders (TMJ) and headaches.
Peripheral nerve blocks are achieved by combining a local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) a steroid (corticosteroid). Steroids are often used to reduce inflammation. Injection nerve blocks can be either single treatments or multiple injections over a period of time. Permanent nerve block can be effected using other drugs or methods including alcohol or phenol to selectively destroy nerve tissue, cryoanalgesia to freeze nerves, and Radiofrequency ablation to destroy nerve tissue using heat. Nerve blocks are sterile procedures that are usually performed in an outpatient facility. The procedure can be performed with the help of an ultrasound, EMG guidance or fluoroscopy (live x-rays).
Will you be asleep for this procedure? It is not necessary for you to go to sleep for this procedure; however, you will receive enough medication to keep you comfortable. How long will the procedure take? The procedure will take 10-20 minutes, depending upon how many nerves need to be blocked.
Before the Procedure
Since you will be receiving medication, it is recommended that you do not eat within eight hours before the procedure. If you are a diabetic, be sure to discuss eating and medication with your doctor. You may need to stop taking certain medications several days before the procedure. Please remind the doctor of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, including herbal and vitamin supplements. The doctor will tell you if and when you need to discontinue the medications It is very important to tell the doctor if you have asthma, or any allergic reactions. The doctor may prescribe some medications for you to take before having the procedure. Tell the doctor if you develop a cold, fever, or flu symptoms before your scheduled appointment.
After the Procedure
You may experience some weakness and/or numbness in the injection area a few hours after the procedure. If so do not engage in any activities that require lifting, balance or coordination. Do not drive the remainder of the day. Please have an adult drive you hope or accompany you in a taxi or other public transportation. Depending how you feel, you may resume normal activities and return to work the following day. Although you may feel much better immediately after the injection (due to numbing medicine), there is a possibility your pain may return within a few hours. It may take a few days for the steroid medication to start working.
The risks, although infrequent include Pneumothorax (collapsed lung), Systemic toxic reactions i.e. seizures, bleeding, hemothorax (bleeding in the chest area), infection nerve damage, worsening of symptoms. If you notice difficulty in getting your breat or pain upon inspiration please go directly to your local emergency room and have the physician there give us a call.