What are nerve blocks?
- Nerve blocks are injections that affect the peripheral nerves, which are nerves beyond the brain and spinal cord that send sensation (feeling) and motor (movement) signals.
- The goal of a nerve block is to decrease the pain signals along the nerve, which may decrease pain.
- Common nerves injected include:
How are they done?
- A diagnostic injection is performed by injecting local anesthetic (numbing medication) to identify the muscle or nerve that may be causing your pain. Local anesthetics last for hours, so a diagnostic injection is meant to relieve pain temporarily.
- A therapeutic injection is meant to provide longer-lasting relief (days to years). These injections frequently combine local anesthetic and a steroid. Steroids are a class of medications that reduce inflammation and thereby pain.
- Another commonly used medication in therapeutic injections is onabotulinum toxin (botox).
- Your provider may use ultrasound or x-ray to perform the injection.
- Relief may last days to years.
- This allows you to focus on physical therapy and home exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles or surrounding area.
- You will remain awake and aware during the procedure
- If successful, the nerve block may be repeated.
- Most people can walk around immediately after. You will be monitored for a period of time, and depending on the injection site, you may need a ride home.
- You may resume full activity the next day.
- You may need a ride home after your injection, please ask the clinic if you have questions about this.
- Mild bruising and soreness around the injection site may occur.
- Applying ice for a few days may reduce inflammation and pain
- Continue to take your regular pain medication
- Recording pain levels for a few days or weeks may help to track the level of relief achieved.
- It may take up to seven (7) days to notice a result from the injection
- Steroid injections may elevate blood sugar, blood pressure, and eye pressure temporarily. Temporary weight gain, water retention, flushing, mood swings, or insomnia may last for 7-10 days.
- Potential risks with inserting a needle include bleeding, infection, pain flare, allergic reaction, headache, and nerve damage (rare).
- Please notify the provider if the injection site becomes infected (fever or drainage at the injection site) or inflamed (redness, swelling, pain at the site), or if you suspect nerve injury.