Nerve blocks are a type of injection used to numb specific nerves that are causing pain.
A nerve block, also known as a nerve root block, is a minimally invasive procedure used to alleviate pain in a specific area of the body. Nerve blocks work by isolating specific nerves that are the source of the pain, and injecting an anesthetic near these nerves to numb them. This blocks the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the affected region. Henry Ford Pain Management specialists are experienced in performing nerve root blocks anywhere in the body, and they can be used to treat – and in some cases diagnose – a wide range of conditions.
Nerve block injections contain an anesthetic, and in some cases also include a corticosteroid (or cortisone) medication, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Nerve blocks are one of many types of corticosteroid injections used to manage pain. Others include:
Nerve blocks for spinal pain
Henry Ford Pain Management specialists offer nerve blocks for the treatment of pain caused by several spinal issues, including:
- Radiculopathy (inflammation or damage to spinal nerve, typically in low back or neck)
- Herniated disk
- Foraminal spinal stenosis
- Failed back surgery syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal arthritis
- Back injury
- Mechanical stress to the back
- Spinal arthropathy
Nerve blocks for peripheral pain
Henry Ford also treats pain in the peripheral joints with nerve root blocks, including:
- Geniculate nerve blocks (knee pain)
- Suprascapular nerve blocks (shoulder pain)
- Interscalene block (upper arm pain)
- Supraclavicular or infraclavicular block (elbow, forearm or hand pain)
Nerve blocks for headache and facial pain
Henry Ford also offers several advanced nerve root block procedures to treat specific areas of headache and facial pain.
Diagnostic nerve blocks
In addition to therapeutic uses, nerve root blocks may be used to help identify the source of pain. Patients who are potential candidates for radiofrequency ablation must first respond well to a diagnostic nerve block.
What to expect during a nerve block
A nerve root block is an advanced procedure that uses image-guided fluoroscopy – a type of medical imaging that displays a live X-ray image on a monitor – to ensure accurate placement of the injection needle. During the procedure:
- You lie on your stomach.
- Your skin is sterilized at the injection site.
- You are administered a local anesthetic to numb the injection area.
- You are positioned on the fluoroscopy X-ray table.
- Your pain management physician inserts a needle into your skin, and guides it toward the targeted nerve roots, using the fluoroscopic image to ensure accurate placement.
- Once the needle is positioned, the medication is injected into the space surrounding the targeted spinal nerves.
Following the nerve block procedure
You will be moved to a recovery room and monitored by your care team. In most cases, nerve block injections are performed on an outpatient basis and you will go home the same day, although in rare cases some patients may require admission to the hospital following the procedure.
The Henry Ford Pain Center approach
At the Henry Ford Pain Center, pain treatment begins with a thorough medical history and physical exam. All patients are evaluated by board-certified pain medicine physicians, physician assistants and certified nurse practitioners to identify the cause of their pain. Following initial assessment, we work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include interventional pain procedures, medication therapy, physical therapy, massage and other complementary options.