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Common Questions About Nerve Blocks

Patients undergoing nerve block treatment for the first time typically have many questions about the procedure. Here are a few common questions and answers to put your mind at ease and help you prepare for treatment.

What is a nerve block?

A nerve block is an injection of numbing medication near a certain group of nerves to reduce pain caused by a range of conditions and issues. Patients may receive a nerve block during and after surgery.

What are the different types of nerve blocks?

Surgical nerve blocks include:

  • Sympathetic blockade. The nerve block is done to block pain from the sympathetic nervous system.

  • Neurectomy. A damaged peripheral nerve is destroyed through surgery.

  • Rhizotomy. The root of the nerves that extend from the spine are destroyed during surgery.

Nonsurgical nerve blocks include:

  • Epidural analgesia or anesthesia. Medicine is injected outside the spinal cord.

  • Spinal anesthesia or analgesia. Medicine is injected in the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

  • Peripheral nerve blockade. Medicine is injected around a target nerve causing pain.

A few types of nerve blocks performed at Westcare Clinics include:

  • Celiac plexus block. Treats severe abdominal pain caused by pancreatic cancer.

  • Ganglion impar block. Eases pain in the lower pelvis and groin.

  • Hypogastric plexus block. Treats chronic pain in the pelvic area.

  • Ilioinguinal nerve block. Treats groin pain caused by hernia surgery or trauma to the groin.

  • Intercostal nerve block. Treats chest pain from a herpes zoster infection or surgical incision.

  • Lumbar sympathetic block. Treats reflex sympathetic dystrophy, herpes zoster infection in the legs, complex regional pain syndrome, vascular insufficiency, and peripheral neuropathy.

  • Medial branch block. Done to diagnose pain from the small media nerves connected to the facet joint.

  • Facet block. Done to numb a facet joint and relieve pain in the neck and back.

  • Occipital nerve block. Treats pain affecting the head, spondylosis, tender or painful scalp, and cluster headaches.

  • Stellate ganglion block. Done to diagnose or treat pain from causalgia, phantom limb pain, complex regional pain syndrome, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and herpes zoster infection.

What is a lower extremity nerve block?

A lower extremity nerve block may treat pain in the hip, thigh, knee, ankle, or foot.

What is an upper extremity nerve block?

An upper extremity nerve block may treat pain in the shoulder, arm, wrist, or hand.

Will the procedure hurt?

Patients are given a sedative before a nerve block to help them relax. The nerve block will involve placing a needle near the nerves that supply the part of the body being treated.

Who isn’t a candidate for nerve blocks?

Nerve blocks are not recommended for patients who:

  • Have an infection at the injection site

  • Are taking anticoagulants

  • Have a bleeding disorder

  • Have neural problems in the nerves being injected

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