Nerve Blocks are an effective form of pain management used to treat conditions that stem from a single nerve, or small group of nerves called a plexus or ganglion.
Nerve blocks can be useful in locating damaged nerves or muscles, determining the overall health of a nerve, and in treating pain.
Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) studies can help identify injury or disease of muscles and nerves along the spine, the face and extremities.
Once the source of a patient’s pain is identified, a localized injection of a nerve-numbing substance into that area of the body can reduce both chronic and acute pain.
There are many different types of nerve blocks that are used to treat different conditions
- Therapeutic Nerve Blocks: Can deliver local anesthetic to control acute pain.
- Preemptive Nerve Blocks: Can be applied to avoid pain from procedures that often result in confused signals, such as amputations.
- Diagnostic Nerve Blocks: Are used to determine sources of pain.
- Prognostic Nerve Blocks: Can be used to help determine whether more permanent treatments, such as surgery, would be effective in treating pain.
Because the body has such an elaborate system of nerves, there are many areas of nerve concentration that benefit from nerve block strategies.
A Sympathetic Nerve Block can be used to determine damage to the sympathetic nerve chain, the network of nerves running the length of the spine that controls many involuntary bodily functions.
The Facet, or Zygapophysical, Joint Blockfocuses directly on pain localized in the facet joints located on the spine at the overlapping junction of the vertebra. These joints control the spine’s movement range. The nerve block can determine whether a facet joint is the source of pain.
A Stellate Ganglion Block is primarily used a diagnostic block and can determine damage to the nerve chain that supplies the neck, chest, arms and head. It can also help to reduce pain in those areas.
Other common nerve blocks include:
- Supraorbital nerve block (forehead)
- Ophthalmic nerve block (eyelids and scalp)
- Maxillary nerve block (upper jaw)
- Sphenopalatine nerve block (nose and palate)
- Trigeminal nerve blocks (face)
- Cervical epidural, thoracic epidural, lumbar epidural block (neck and back)
- Cervical plexus block, cervical paravertebral block (shoulder and upper neck)
- Brachial plexus block, elbow block, and wrist block (shoulder/arm/hand, elbow, and wrist)
- Subarachnoid block, celiac plexus block (abdomen and pelvis)
An appropriate nerve block can be a great solution to managing pain, and can provide relief from many types of discomfort.
Nerve blocks can also be used, in specific cases, in as a non-invasive alternative to surgery.