Nerve blocks are used for treating and managing pain. There are several different
types of nerve blocks that serve different purposes. Often a group of nerves, called
a plexus or ganglion, that cause pain to a specific organ or body region can be blocked
with the injection of medication into a specific area of the body. The injection
of this nerve-numbing substance is called a nerve block.
How Are Nerve Blocks Used?
Different kinds of nerve blocks are used for different purposes.
Therapeutic nerve blocks are used to treat painful conditions. Such nerve blocks
contain local anesthetic that can be used to control acute pain.
Diagnostic nerve blocks are used to determine sources of pain. These blocks typically
contain an anesthetic with a known duration of relief.
Prognostic nerve blocks predict the outcome of given treatments. For example, a nerve
block may be performed to determine if more permanent treatments (such as surgery)
to block the activity of a nerve would be successful in treating pain.
Preemptive nerve blocks are meant to prevent subsequent pain from a procedure that
can cause problems including phantom limb pain.
Nerve blocks can be used, in some cases, to avoid surgery.
Types of nerve blocks include:
• Sympathetic nerve block
• Stellate ganglion block
• Facet joint block
• Cervical epidural, thoracic epidural, and lumbar epidural block (neck and back)
• Cervical plexus block and cervical paravertebral block (shoulder and upper neck)
• Brachial plexus block, elbow block, and wrist block (shoulder/arm/hand, elbow,