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FAQs on Peripheral Nerve Blocks in Phoenix, Arizona

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Peripheral nerve blocks are used as anesthesia for many patients undergoing surgical procedures. The nerve block involves injecting an anesthetic agent on or near the nerve, or nerve bundle, that controls movement and sensation. The injection will only temporarily numb the area, which offers many benefits.

What are the benefits of peripheral nerve blocks?

Peripheral nerve blocks are an alternative to general anesthesia. For patients with serious medical issues, the nerve block allows the patient to avoid being put to sleep. It has many advantages over general anesthesia, such as reduced risk of post-operative confusion and fatigue, as well as reduce incidence of nausea and/or vomiting. Further advantages include post-operative pain control, decreased need for strong pain medicine, and fewer complications.

What is the purpose of nerve blocks?

Nerve blocks are the best treatment for most painful conditions. Often blocks are not possible, simply because they are too dangerous for the person. However, most patients can have peripheral and selective nerve blocks without problems. The purpose of blocks with local anesthesia is to control acute pain. Steroids are used to reduce joint and nerve inflammation, which also reduces abnormal signaling from injured or damaged nerves. Pain and injury will make the nerves more sensitive, and a block will provide long periods of pain relief.

How long is the duration of pain relief with a nerve block?

A factor that influences duration of pain relief involves whether a single injection is used, or if the catheter is placed next to a nerve. Another factor to consider is the choice of medication and technique of delivery. Combining medications will decrease the amount of each medicine needed. Commo agents used include lidocaine (anesthetic), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and opioids (such as morphine or codeine).

Do peripheral nerve blocks work?

According to research studies, 87% of anesthesiologists use nerve blocks regularly. The common blocks used included interscalene, femoral, popliteal sciatic, and Bier block.

What are the different types of nerve blocks?

There are many different types of nerve blocks. These include:celiac-plexus-block2

  • Subarachnoid block (abdomen/pelvis)
  • Celiac plexus block (abdomen/pelvis)
  • Trigeminal nerve block (face)
  • Supraorbital nerve block (forehead)
  • Sphenopalatine nerve block (nose and palate
  • Cervical/thoracic/lumbar epidural block (neck/back)
  • Cervical plexus block (shoulder)

 

What nerve blocks are used most often by pain management specialists?

The most frequently used blocks include:

  • Sympathetic nerve block – This one is used to determine if damage exists to the sympathetic nerve chain. This is a nerve network extending along the length of the spine. These nerves open and narrow blood vessels.

 

  • Stellate ganglion block – Used to assess for damage to the sympathetic nerve chain that supplies the chest, neck, head, and arms. This is also used as a diagnostic block.

 

  • Facet joint block – Used to determine if facet joints of the spine are painful. Also called a zygapophysial joint block.

 

  • Selective nerve root block – The nerve is approached with this technique at the level where it leaves the hole between two vertebrae (called the foramen). The injection involves use of a corticosteroid and an anesthetic.

 

In a recent clinical study involving nerve blocks of the sphenopalatine ganglion, the procedure had an 86% success rate. In another study, patients reported pain relief 24 months after a nerve block. In many literature reviews, these blocks are effective for cluster headache, posttraumatic headache, neck pain, and trigeminal neuralgia.

Resources

Bayer E, Racz G, Day M, et al. (2005). Sphenopalatine ganglion pulsed radiofrequency treatment in 30 patients suffering from chronic face and head pain. Pain Practice, 5:223.

Corvetto MA, Echevarria GC, Espinoza AM, & Altermatt FR (2015). Which types of peripheral nerve blocks should be included in residency training programs? BMC Anesthesiology, 15, 32.

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