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Are nerve blocks worth it?

Emj1988EEmj1988 Posts: 45
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Pain Management
Ive had 2 cortizone shots at l5-s1 (1 on disk and 1 in the facets). Im going for another injection next week for the facets and my PM said if that does the work they will proceded to a nerve block.

I have no idea at all what a nerve block consists of but i think ill be pretty messed up if I have that done. Will you be able to feel pain later on (like a year later?) because I dont want to have this done and feel great and go out and do something to really mess myself up because I cant feel any pain at all-


21yr old injured on the job with.....

Mid back pain- MRI showed nothing just my luck

Low back
L3-4: Mild bilateral facet arthroses.

L4-5: Mild desiccation and disc bulge. Mild bilateral facet arthroses.

L5-S1: Mild disc space narrowing and desiccation with a left central disc extrusion which extends dorsally up to 4mm. There is mild retrolisthesis of L5 on S1 of 2mm. There is mild ventral indentation on the dural sac and left S1 nerve root. There is no foraminal narrowing. Mild bilateral facet arthroses.

Conservative treatments: non surgical spinal decommpresson (this helped alot!), petibon system, excersice ruitine, 1 x epidural(s) (this relived some pressure on s1-l5 whooo who), coming soon adult stem cell injection!

Time to go back and get another degree because of my back great!


  • Do you mean a rhizotomy?I had one to relieve sacroiliac and buttock pain about 2 years after my first fusion.I had the procedure in September,and so far I have no more pain--let me know
  • If you mean a nerve block injection, it is just like an ESI but it is placed differently. Often it is a diagnostic procedure to see if the pain is coming from a particular spinal nerve.

    As far as the patient is concerned, the procedure is similar to an injection. But rather than just having a steroid medication, the injection will also contain a numbing agent. The patient immediately feels numb upon having the injection...and is told to go about all the activities that normally cause pain and to keep a pain journal. You record when the numbness begins to wear off, whether you have any pain, when it begins, etc.

    The idea is if the numbing agent is working on the pain generating nerve, the patient will not have pain while doing the activities that normally would cause pain. When the medicine wears off, the patient will feel pain. If however, the patient is still in pain after the injection, the doctor knows that the nerve that was injected was not the one causing pain.

    As far as I know, the nerve block is not given for pain relief that is long-lasting. The steroid may help briefly, but I've never heard of it being long-lasting.
  • A nerve block relieves pain by interrupting how pain signals are sent to your brain. It is done by injecting a substance, such as alcohol or phenol, into or around a nerve or into the spine.

    Nerve blocks may be used for several purposes, such as:

    * To determine the source of pain.
    * To treat painful conditions.
    * To predict how pain will respond to long-term treatments.
    * For short-term pain relief after some surgeries and other procedures.
    * For anesthesia during some smaller procedures, such as finger surgery.

    Nerve blocks are used to treat chronic pain when drugs or other treatments do not control pain or cause bad side effects. A test block is usually performed with local anesthetic. If you achieve good pain relief from the local anesthetic, your doctor may inject a nerve block, such as alcohol or phenol.

    Nerve blocks numb the nerves touched by the drugs. This relieves pain by interrupting the pain signal sent by the nerves to your brain. Depending on the type of nerve block, your pain may be numbed for a short time or a long time.

    Nerve blocks for chronic pain may work for 6 to 12 months. They may have to be repeated.


  • EMJ,
    Chronic pain mandate a hierarchy of know treatments that should move tentatively from one process to the next, based on current medical assessment, the success is variable and this may always be a case of trying through experience to see how effective this can be for any individual.

    Your current assessment must deem that this procedure is appropriate for you at this time and time will tell if this process has worked for you. As said, it can be a wide range of effectiveness and may give some insight to the list that Dave has suggested. You are right to be cautious of exceeding your physical capacity and aware of reasonable limitations, I would not let it deter you from doing normal activity and no posts have been presented that may suggest inherent damaged cause during this allotted time.

    Dependant on effectiveness some find this process more favourable or appropriate than constant medication and only time with determine future usage and effectiveness, this process is not the panacea for recovery should an underlying surgical intervention be required in the future and will only mask the symptoms of underlying origin. Any minimal intervention is worth it based on the alternative of rushing head long into irreversible surgery and we all hope this process proves successful. It is not suggested that this process only forestalls the inevitable and one might take some comfort that surgical intervention is not currently required.

    My own shots lasted about six to nine months for each one and I had two consecutively, it never eradicated the pain only made it bearable, it was the mode of best practice in attempting to manage it more effectively, a necessary tool from a range of options.

    Take care and good luck.


  • Hi,

    I have nerve blocks done and I have RFA procedures done. I alternate between the two. Every 12 weeks I go in for a procedure. I am always put into "twilight" sleep and do not feel a thing. I have severe disc disease and manage the pain with the help of two spinal cord stimulators, RFA and nerve bolcks. This program helps me manage the pain and I am able to work and function fairly well. I always get a fair amount of relief with the nerve blocks. It takes about a week or so for me to feel the full effect. The pain control slowly wears off around the 10 week mark. It is still worth it to me.

    Best of life,

  • I had two nerve blocks done to determine where, exactly, my pain was coming from. Once we determined that, I had a rhizotomy done, followed by two more rhizotomies.

    I think the thing you have to remember is that you still have underlying issues. While it's great to have reduced pain, if the procedures are successful, I found I had to be very conscious of what I was doing. Yes, I was able to go out and hike again, almost immediately, but would I have considered running a marathon? No....I don't think so!

    Sometimes the relief from these procedures is enough to at least give us hope for the future that there are things that can make a difference to help us through the darkest days.

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