Pain can be a useful tool that your body uses to indicate something’s gone wrong. Chronic pain, however, can outlast its usefulness and greatly interfere with the way you live your life. The goal for treating chronic pain includes identifying the source of the pain and providing relief from your symptoms.
Michael Hennessy, M.D. and the team at Texas Spine Consultants understand the debilitating effects of chronic pain and use their expertise to help provide effective, patient-focused treatment strategies. The priority is to get you moving again without pain. A nerve block can do that and more. Read on to learn more about nerve blocks from this top-rated chronic pain specialist.
Nerve blocks aren’t just for pain
A nerve block is performed via an injection containing a local anesthetic that can block pain signals traveling from a group of nerves to your brain. It’s the same type of treatment used to numb an area before suture placement or to prevent discomfort during a tooth extraction.
The difference in using nerve blocks for chronic pain is related to the nerves we’re targeting, i.e. a painful nerve related to a herniated disc in your spine versus the nerves that signal tooth pain. The injection material used for chronic pain therapy also includes anti-inflammatory medications or steroids to help reduce swelling and irritation surrounding the targeted nerve group.
Along with treating your pain, we can use a nerve block as:
- A diagnostic study to help determine the source of your pain
- A predictive tool to help determine the outcome of certain treatments, such as surgery
- A treatment that may help you avoid surgery
Therapeutic nerve blocks are typically used for pain in the back, neck, arms, legs, and buttocks.
A nerve block for chronic pain is a relatively simple procedure
We provide detailed information and instructions about the procedure before scheduling your nerve block, but it’s typically done on an outpatient basis and doesn’t require an overnight hospital stay. You may require sedation to help keep you relaxed during the nerve block and will need a ride home afterward.
You’ll likely be positioned on your stomach or side on a specially designed table that gives Dr. Hennessy easy access to the injection point. Once we’ve numbed the skin to prevent discomfort at the targeted site, Dr. Hennessy uses fluoroscopy (video-style X-ray images) to guide the injection to the correct location. It takes just a few moments for the injection itself.
We’ll let you rest afterward and monitor you closely until the anesthetic used in the injection begins to take effect. Depending on the nature and history of your pain, you may notice immediate relief or gradual improvement over a few days. You may also notice some soreness at the injection site itself, but that generally resolves quickly.
A nerve block can provide somewhat long-lasting but only temporary relief
The anesthetic used in a nerve block usually wears off within hours, but the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of the steroid can last for several days to weeks. Based on your medical history and response to the initial block, we can safely repeat the procedure several times over a 12-month period if necessary.
A nerve block is usually most effective when combined with other treatments
Chronic pain often makes it difficult to participate in physical therapy and other treatments designed to improve the underlying condition. A nerve block can relieve your pain and keep you comfortable enough to engage in therapies designed to provide long-lasting solutions for your chronic pain.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain and would like more details about how a nerve block may help, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hennessy at Texas Spine Consultants today. Call the office or click the “book online” button to get started.