When you touch a hot stove, the nerves in your hand send a pain signal to your brain that alerts you to quickly move your hand from the stove. Pain signals can be classified as acute or chronic. An acute pain is like the hot stove example above, but with chronic pain, the brain continues to send pain signals despite the initial injury having healed. If you have chronic pain, it might be caused by nerve dysfunction. A nerve block can help reduce that pain. Here’s how it works.
What is a Nerve Block?
A nerve block is a way to reduce or relieve chronic or acute pain. A substance — alcohol, steroids, numbing agents — is injected into the nerve or an area of your spine.
You might receive a nerve block to reduce or relieve pain when other measures haven’t been sufficient, you might receive one prior to surgery to reduce pain or you might receive one as a diagnostic tool to help determine the source of your pain. Nerve blocks can also be used:
- To see how your pain will respond to long-term treatment
- For pain relief during smaller procedures where you are awake
- For pain relief during childbirth
- To relieve pain from cancer
How does a Nerve Block Reduce Pain?
Depending on the type of substance injected into the nerve, a nerve block can reduce inflammation in the nerve, numb the nerve or cause damage to the nerve pathway. Ultimately, nerve blocks work by changing or interrupting how pain signals are sent from the nerve to the brain.
The time a nerve block lasts can vary depending on the type you receive. Nerve blocks for chronic pain can last from six to 12 months and can be repeated. Nerve blocks used for surgical pain relief last between six to 72 hours.
Types of Nerve Blocks
There are three kinds of nerve blocks that are commonly used. They are:
- A local nerve block: This type of nerve block is used to apply a local anesthetic to an area of your body. It’s commonly known as an epidural and can be used to relieve chronic neck or back pain.
- A neurolytic block: This kind of nerve block uses alcohol, freezing agents or heat to damage certain areas of the nerve pathway, interrupting or changing the pain signals sent to your brain. It can be used to treat severe chronic pain caused by cancers or complex regional pain syndrome.
- A surgical block: This kind of nerve block involves surgically removing a nerve or causing damage to it like a neurolytic block. And like a neurolytic block, it’s commonly used to treat severe chronic pain.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain, there is hope. Contact us today to see if a nerve block can be used to relieve your pain today.