Nerve Blocks

What is it?

Nerve blocks diagnose and treat pain caused by nerve damage or malfunction. These blocks can be performed by injecting medication into the area or the damaged parts of a nerve.

What is it for?

Nerve blocks are used for chronic pain. Nerve blocks target the sympathetic nerve system, a network of nerves that expand from the spine out to the body. The sympathetic nerves help in controlling involuntary body functions such as blood flow, sweating and digestion.

The location of the pain determines the area where you’ll receive the block. You may receive the block in the neck area if your pain is in the upper body. You may receive the block in the lumbar area of the back if the pain is in the lower body.

How to prepare

  • Communicate with your health care provider about your medical history, medications you are taking and allergies
  • You will be given instructions on what to eat and drink prior to the procedure
  • You may need someone to drive you home

What happens during?

  • You will be made relaxed and sleepy through an I.V. line
  • Your neck or back will be numbed by medicine
  • X-rays with contrast dye or a CT (computed tomography) scan may be used to find the correct nerve to block
  • Once the nerve is located, the nerve is blocked by injecting it with an anesthetic solution

What happens after?

  • You can usually return to normal activities after 24 hours of rest

Side effects

Side effects are usually temporary, you may experience the following within 24 hours of the procedure. These side effects should eventually subside:

  • Soreness
  • Warm feeling
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Voice change
  • Eyelid droop

Call your health care provider if you experience prolonged:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Hoarseness
  • Swallowing difficulty

More information: