If you are suffering from pain and the source of this pain has been carefully diagnosed by the appropriate doctor, and there is no other treatment available for you, a nerve block may be able to free you from pain. Nerve blocks can help those who suffer from:
- Neck and back pain (especially from herniated discs)
- Shoulder pain
- Face pain
- Jaw pain
- Arm, hand, elbow and wrist pain
- Abdominal pain
- Cancer pain
- Shingles pain
Nerve blocks may also be useful to control pain if the source of the pain is known to be temporary or while you are waiting for other forms of treatment.
How do nerve blocks work?
Nerve blocks literally block or disrupt the pain signal that is sent from your brain to your body. Some forms of nerve blocks use local anesthetic to achieve this. This is similar to the same way that “freezing” in your dentist’s office helps numb your mouth so you do not feel the pain of the drill.
In addition to local anesthetic, nerve blocks also use other drugs and methods including cortiscosteroids, opiods, alcohol, cryoanalgesia (freezing) and radiofrequency (heat).
Nerve Block Wait Time
As a result of rationing of care by the Canadian public health system and the limited availability of doctors specializing in pain management, your treatment may be delayed and will be subject to being cancelled. Timely Medical Alternatives can help you find a private clinic to expedite your case so you can get the treatment you need as quickly as possible.
Nerve Block Risks
The risks will very with the type of nerve block performed but may include soreness at the site of injection, elevated blood sugars, rash, itching, weight gain, bleeding, infection or allergic reaction. The more serious of these side effects are rare.
Patients who are on anti-coagulant therapy such as Heparin or Coumadin may not be eligible for nerve blocks because of the risk of bleeding. Be sure to discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor.
How effective are nerve blocks and how long does the pain relief last?
Nerve blocks may work for anywhere from several hours to several months. They can be delivered by a single injection or a continuous infusion. In some cases, they might even involve deliberately destroying the nerve. Nerve blocks are generally most successful if they are part of a total pain management program that also includes rehabilitation and training in other pain control measures such as self-hypnosis or relaxation exercises.