What Are Nerve Blocks and How Are They Used?

Treating Back Pain with Spinal Injections

For patients experiencing chronic pain linked to a specific group of nerves the solution for relief may be the use of a nerve block to prevent those pain signals from traveling to the brain. Delivered in the form of an injection, nerve blocks are often used to treat patients with acute pain that’s not responding well to more conservative pain management efforts.

Types of Nerve Blocks

There are different types of nerve blocks. The type of nerve block used depends on factors such as the location of the pain and way in which the patient experiences pain. Nerve blocks fall into the following categories:

  • Therapeutic Nerve Blocks: Containing a local anesthetic, therapeutic nerve blocks control acute, or sharp and sudden, pain.
  • Diagnostic Nerve Blocks: Combined with an anesthetic, diagnostic blocks are temporary blocks used to pinpoint the specific source of a patient’s pain.
  • Prognostic Nerve Blocks: Nerve blocks of this nature are used to determine if a patient would respond better to back surgery or other permanent treatments.
  • Preemptive Nerve Blocks: When a nerve block is used to prevent pain rather than address existing discomfort, it’s considered preemptive.

Nerve Blocks by Location

The type of nerve block that’s recommended for a patient depends on where the pain is physically located. Cervical epidural, lumbar epidural, and thoracic epidural blocks are specific to the neck and back. Cervical paravertebral and cervical plexus blocks target nerves in the shoulders and upper neck. There are also nerve blocks that target specific nerve chains.

Treating Spine and Joint Pain

Nerve blocks can be used to treat spine pain from conditions, such as lumbar degenerative disc disease, affecting the sympathetic nerves, a group of nerves extending throughout the backbone. Facet joint blocks disrupt signals coming from the joints of the spine responsible for movement and range of motion.

For patients with recurring pain, nerve blocks provide another treatment option before considering surgery. Nerve blocks also tend to benefit patients who aren’t ideal candidates for other procedures. Nerve blocking may be combined with other treatments, including the use of various medications and physical therapy, to provide multiple sources of relief.

For more information about possible treatment options for back pain, call (310) 828-7757 and speak with a representative at The Spine Institute Center in Beverly Hills and schedule an in-person consultation.