Injections for Back Pain Relief: What Is a Block?

If you’ve been involved in an incident that has resulted in back pain, you’re probably looking for solutions. While you could get drugs to numb the pain, you could also get injections for back pain relief in Greenville, SC.

One of such injections is referred to as a nerve block. This article explains what it is, how it works, and how it can help you manage your pain.

What Is a Nerve Block?

As the name implies, a nerve block is an anesthetic injection applied to a nerve or group of nerves to manage back pain relief. Nerve blocks work by blocking the signals between the nerve and the brain, hindering your ability to feel pain in the affected area.

Usually, a doctor will administer an anesthetic to the area around the nerve or group of nerves. Sometimes, a surgical procedure may be used to cut the nerve. You may be nervous about a nerve block, but it is a safe procedure.

Before administering the anesthetic, your doctor cleans the injection site. When the area is numb, the doctor inserts a needle into the affected area with the help of an ultrasound, CT scan, or fluoroscopy. This ensures the needle is placed accurately and minimizes the risk of blocking the wrong nerve.

After ascertaining that the needle is in the right location, the doctor administers the injection. Depending on the type of nerve block, its effects to manage back pain relief could last for eight to 36 hours. However, some nerve blocks are meant to be permanent.

Ensure you are adequately prepared before going in for a nerve block injection. Depending on your condition and the procedure, your doctor may request that you fast for a few hours. You may also be too weak to function without help. Therefore, ensure that you have someone available to take care of you or drive you home.

Who Can Use a Nerve Block?

Anyone in pain can use nerve blocks. However, the most common types of pain that require a nerve block are from childbirth or labor, low back pain, neck pain, cancer-related pain, or pain from spasms in the blood vessels.

Earlier, we pointed out that a temporary nerve block could last up to 36 hours. However, where the pain is severe and constant, a nerve catheter may be used to provide continuous medication to that area for as long as the doctor prescribes.

Relieving a patient of pain is not the only use of nerve blocks. These medications can also be used for diagnosis. Doctors use diagnostic nerve blocks for specific nerves or groups of nerves suspected of causing pain.

They inject the anesthetic into the area of pain to determine whether it is indeed the source of pain. Then, if the patient feels back pain relief, it means the doctor found the origin, and vice-versa.

injection for back pain relief

Types of Nerve Blocks

The nerve block procedure that your doctor chooses will depend on your condition and what they want to achieve. There are quite a few nerve blocks, broadly classified into surgical nerve blocks and non-surgical nerve blocks. Below are a few of them.

Surgical Nerve Blocks

Surgical nerve blocks are meant to be permanent and are often used to treat debilitating conditions such as cancer-related pain. They work by cutting off or destroying specific nerve cells. Examples are:

  • Neurectomy

In a neurectomy, specific nerves are blocked or severed to relieve severe pain in patients. It is commonly prescribed for patients with endometriosis, adenomyosis, and vertigo. There are two types of neurectomy – presacral and vestibular neurectomy.

Presacral neurectomy is typically used on patients with lower abdominal pain, while vestibular neurectomy is performed on patients with chronic vertigo.

  • Rhizotomy

Rhizotomy can be used for pain arising from arthritis, spinal stenosis, trigeminal neuralgia, spasticity, and joint pains. The procedure typically involves the destruction of nerve fibers by burning them with a chemical or electric current. They can also be severed using a surgical instrument. There are three primary forms of rhizotomy: radiofrequency rhizotomy, glycerin rhizotomy, and endoscopic rhizotomy.

  • Sympathetic Blockade

A sympathetic blockade stops pain from the sympathetic nervous system. It is frequently used to treat excessive sweating in some body parts and pain from spasms in the blood vessels.

Non-Surgical Nerve Blocks

Unlike surgical nerve blocks, non-surgical blocks are temporary and involve injections. Examples are:

  • Peripheral Nerve Blocks

For peripheral nerve blocks, anesthesia is targeted at a nerve or a group of nerves to block pain.

  • Epidural

Epidural nerve blocks are often used during childbirth. Here, the doctor injects analgesic around the nerve cells bordering the spinal cord.

  • Spinal Anesthesia

For spinal anesthesia, the doctor will inject anesthesia into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

It’s important to note that the procedures mentioned above may not always provide complete back pain relief. Some people may not experience any comfort, although that is rare. Furthermore, where you have had chronic pain for a long time, it may come from more than one point.

Therefore, you may require more than one procedure to get back pain relief. If an approach does not provide complete comfort, your doctor will tell you whether you need a different treatment.

Are There Side Effects of Nerve Blocks?

Like any medical procedure, nerve block has risks or side effects, but these are very rare. Some of the most common side effects include soreness, infection, and bleeding. Also, the wrong nerve could be blocked when the nerves are close together.

There is also the risk of permanent nerve damage in such situations. If this makes you wary, you should speak to whoever will be conducting the procedure about your fears. They will explain how it would work and any possible risks. Additionally, you should inform them of any changes you notice after the treatment.

Are There Alternatives to Nerve Blocks?

Not everyone will want a nerve block, so you might seek alternatives. Some options for nerve blocks include opioids, exercise, and nitrous oxide. However, the use of opioids must be moderate to avoid dependency.

Get Injections for Back Pain Relief in Greenville at Carolina Spine and Pain Center 

Regardless of the nature of the pain, it often brings discomfort and could disrupt your regular schedule. When this happens, you may be tempted to self-medicate to ease the pain. However, you’re better off having a medical practitioner examine you before prescribing a solution. This way, you’re confident that you are in good hands.

At Carolina Spine and Pain Center, we provide expert medical care for all our patients, including auto accident injury treatment in Greenville, SC. We do not just prescribe medication but ensure you get an accurate diagnosis. So, if you have any pain, you can book an appointment with us to learn your options.