For the nearly one-quarter (23%) of the world’s population who deal with chronic lower back pain, the search for relief is a top priority. If you find yourself among this number and you want your old life back — the one in which you weren’t limited by back pain — we can help.
At Texas Spine Consultants, we have an incredibly talented team of spine health experts, including Michael Hennessy, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, Heidi Lee, MD, Andrew Park, MD, and Robert Viere, MD. Together, we’ve helped scores of patients plug back into their lives and enjoy freedom from the pain and limitations of chronic lower back pain.
As part of our vast treatment arsenal, we offer nerve blocks, which can play a couple of roles in remedying your lower back pain.
A quick anatomy lesson
To understand the role that nerve blocks can play, it’s helpful to do a quick review of the anatomy of your lower back. At the heart of this area is your lumbar spine, which is made up of five large vertebrae that are separated by five discs.
Unlike the upper portions of your spine, your lumbar spine does not provide passage for your spinal cord, which ends in your lower thoracic spine, or midback. Instead, your lumbar spine hosts a number of nerve roots, including five pairs of lumbar nerves.
The reason why lower back pain is so prevalent is that this area works harder and enjoys more movement than other areas in your spine (except your neck). This means that more problems can crop up, such as degenerative changes and herniated discs.
These issues then compress a nerve root or group of nerves, such as your sciatica, which can lead to local pain, as well as pain that travels down into your leg.
Nerve blocks to the rescue
To help relieve your immediate pain and restore your ability to move, we often first turn to nerve blocks. Most nerve blocks contain both an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory agent to quiet the pain signaling and reduce the inflammation that’s irritating the nerve fibers.
We deliver the nerve block directly into the area where we believe the nerves are overactive and, as the name suggests, our goal is to temporarily block these nerves.
A nerve block plays a couple of different roles in addressing lower back pain. First, it relieves your immediate symptoms so that you can function comfortably again. This respite allows you time to pursue more sustainable solutions for your lower back pain, such as physical therapy.
We also use nerve blocks as a diagnostic tool, to locate the nerves that are creating your discomfort in the first place. Once we confirm that we’ve targeted the right nerves with a nerve block, we can try other nerve blocking techniques for longer-term relief, such as radiofrequency ablation or spinal cord stimulation.
The bottom line is that nerve blocks are true workhorses for us when it comes to resolving lower back pain.
If you’d like to learn more about nerve blocks and whether they can play a part in your lower back pain regimen, contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule a consultation with one of our spine experts.