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Interventional Pain Management: How Can Nerve Blocks Help?

Chronic pain can have a seriously negative impact on your quality of life. A 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 50 million Americans have chronic pain, equal to one in every five people. Of those, 20 million had “high-impact chronic pain,” which is pain that’s severe enough that it had a significant effect on their daily lives.

Chronic pain can often be difficult to treat. Over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t usually an effective long-term solution. However, you deserve to get effective pain relief, and nerve blocks can be a good option. The providers at Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine offer this helpful information about this conservative yet effective treatment.

The facts about interventional pain management

Interventional pain management is a unique approach that treats chronic pain with minimally invasive procedures. When more conservative treatments, such as rest and over-the-counter medicines fail to work, interventional pain management may be able to help. The goal of interventional pain management is to find the root causes of pain.

Interventional treatments often include a combination of different therapies, including physical therapy and local nerve blocks. We can treat many chronic pain conditions, such as the following:

All of these conditions are commonly associated with high levels of daily pain. But by addressing the root causes, you can often experience a significant reduction in pain.

What nerve blocks do

Nerve blocks target the source of pain. In the procedure, we inject a medication, such as a steroid anti-inflammatory drug or opioid pain reliever, directly into the inflamed site that’s causing the pain. If your pain is in your lower back, for example, we may inject the medicine into the epidural space at the base of your spine. We use an X-ray to help us guide the injection needle to exactly the right place.

By reducing the amount of pain at the source, you’re more likely to experience effective pain relief. Steroid injections are often particularly helpful, because they’re a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine that can reduce pain and swelling. 

There are different types of nerve blocks, and each is given for a unique purpose. Some of the nerve blocks include the following:

Diagnostic nerve blocks

Diagnostic nerve blocks can be given to help us more closely narrow down the source of your pain. After injecting the targeted nerves with a small amount of anesthetic, if you receive relief from the pain medicine, we will know that’s the site of the affected nerves. If you don’t receive relief, we can continue looking for the affected nerves. 

Preemptive nerve blocks

Preemptive nerve blocks are useful if you experience “phantom” pains that don’t respond well to other treatments. These nerve blocks help disrupt the pain signals your body sends to your brain.

Prognostic nerve blocks

Prognostic nerve blocks can help us predict how well you would respond to more invasive treatments. We may give you a prognostic nerve block if we suspect you may need surgical intervention.

Nerve blocks are given as an outpatient procedure, and they’re performed under local anesthesia. In some cases, we may decide surgery is the best option if your body doesn’t respond to nerve blocks. But, as part of a comprehensive interventional pain management strategy, nerve blocks can be a great solution.

If you have chronic pain and want to see if a nerve block can help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine today.

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