09 Nov Treating Pain with Nerve Blocks: There Is Nothing to Fear
Terms like ‘celiac plexus block’ and ‘stellate ganglion block’ can seem intimidating when you first hear them. They are innocuous terms to pain doctors, but patients can hear them and instantly be gripped with fear. We understand that. There is fear with the unknown. But let us assure you that when it comes to nerve blocks, there really is nothing to worry about. Nerve blocks are safe, effective, and minimally invasive.
A nerve block is a procedure rooted in the concept of interrupting signals sent from nerve to brain. The procedure works for the simple fact that pain is not actually a physical property, like swelling. Rather, it is a brain response. Nerves send signals to the brain; the brain interprets those signals as pain. As such, pain can be relieved by blocking the signals.
It is important to point out that pain management doctors tend to turn to nerve blocks after other treatments have failed. Nerve blocks are an alternative to pain medication and a way to avoid surgery. However, nerve blocks are not appropriate for every patient or every cause of pain.
How Nerve Blocks Work
A nerve block can relieve pain with an injection of pain medication, steroids, or a combination of both. When both types of medications are used, pain doctors are going with a two-pronged approach. The pain medication immediately numbs the area to provide temporary pain relief. Meanwhile, the steroid medication reduces inflammation and blocks pain signals for a longer period of time.
As you read previously, nerve blocks are minimally invasive. This means that a nerve block procedure doesn’t require surgery. Nerve blocks are achieved with a simple injection.
To begin with, the pain doctor examines the patient to determine the exact source of pain. Imaging tests and other diagnostics may have to be run to zero-in on the exact nerve in question. Once the problem nerve has been identified, an injection site is chosen. The skin is numbed with a local anesthetic, followed by the injection of the nerve block medication.
Nerve Blocks We Offer
There are more than a dozen different nerve block therapies pain doctors utilize on behalf of their patients. Here are just a few of those available here at Lone Star Pain Medicine:
- Celiac Plexus Block – Utilized to treat certain types of abdominal and cancer pain.
- Lumbar Sympathetic Block – This nerve block treats lower back and leg pain, including sciatica pain.
- Medial Branch Block – A medial branch block can relieve pain caused by sciatica or facet joint syndrome.
- Stellate Ganglion Block – This nerve block is an effective treatment for pain in the upper body, including the neck and head.
Nerve blocks are outpatient treatments that we conduct right here at our clinic. Most treatments can be concluded in about an hour, with patients returning to normal activities shortly thereafter. As for how long pain relief lasts, that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Don’t Live with Chronic Pain
Effective pain management is our mission here at Lone Star. Where pain can be completely relieved, we do our best to achieve that goal. We do not want our patients experiencing a lower quality of life just because they have given in to the idea of living with their pain. We don’t think that way, so neither should you.
Do not live with chronic pain as though it is an unwelcome house guest. Most types of chronic pain can be effectively treated and managed. If your pain is treatable with a nerve block, you may find incredible relief with a simple, minimally invasive injection.