Nerve Block

An injection that is given by doctors to relieve pain is a nerve block. This medicine may help in diagnosing the source of nerve pain. However, different nerve blocks are available because they are based on the nerve it is targeting (including genicular nerve block, occipital nerve block, and others).

What is a Nerve Block?

Nerve blocks are injections that provide temporary relief from pain. This medication is close to a targeted nerve or group of nerves. In addition, your healthcare professional may give you an anti-inflammatory injection alongside anesthesia to help damaged nerves heal.

Generally, the nerves are certain cables that carry electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body and backward. As a result, the nerves help you to feel sensations (including touch, pain, and others) and move the muscles. Furthermore, these also help to maintain some body functions such as breathing, sweating, digesting food, and others. Therefore, nerve blocks primarily help to relieve pain signals. However, they may also affect other nerve functions as well.

In most cases, injection effects are experienced by people who administer it quickly. In any case, some people do not notice any effects from nerve blocks and use other treatment options to lessen the symptoms.

What Are The Purposes of a Nerve Block?

  • Anesthetic Nerve Blocks – Usually, this injection is given by anesthesiologists or surgeons to lessen pain after surgery. However, you can choose a nerve block instead of anesthesia for small surgeries (including carpal tunnel surgery, trigger finger release surgery, and others).
  • Diagnostic Nerve Blocks – This injection can be used in case you experience pain but your physician does not know the exact source. Thereafter, if you notice a relief of pain, it means that the source of pain is the targeted nerves. In case you do not experience pain relief, it may come from another source.
  • Therapeutic Nerve Blocks – In such cases, the patient administers this injection to get temporary relief from acute (sudden or short) and chronic (long-term) pain. Thus, the nerve block can provide healing and reduce inflammation and pain.

Nerve Block Types

Check below some types of nerve blocks:

Trigeminal Nerve Block

This injection is usually used to treat trigeminal neuralgia (this condition causes pain on both sides of your face).

Stellate Ganglion Block

A group of nerves located in your neck on both sides of your voice box. This injection helps to lessen the pain in your neck, upper arm, upper chest, and head.

Pudendal Nerve Block

A major nerve in the pelvic region is called Pudendal Nerve. It works by sending movement and sensation information to the genital area. Therefore, this injection can be used during labor or delivery in case you do not want to receive an epidural. A pudendal nerve block is effective in the treatment of genital, tailbone (coccyx), and rectal pain.

Occipital Nerve Block

The group of nerves that are located in the back of your head are called occipital nerves. Hence, this injection helps to diagnose and treat occipital neuralgia also known as occipital headache. It also is effective in the treatment of chronic intractable migraine.

Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block

In the lower back of your spine are located sympathetic nerves. This block helps to lessen the leg and lower back pain (usually caused by sciatica, complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS, and others).

Intercostal Nerve Block

This injection is commonly used to treat pain from rib fractures and diagnose neuralgia (nerve pain) of your intercostal nerves located under each of your ribs.

Genicular Nerve Block

In the treatment of chronic knee pain or for surgeries that provoke moderate to severe postoperative knee pain is often used this block.

Epidural Nerve Block

This is one of the most common blocks that is commonly used during labor or childbirth. However, physicians use it for surgeries. The epidural nerve block helps to numb an exact area of your body such as your legs or belly.

Celiac Plexus Nerve Block

A group of nerves that are located in the upper abdomen behind your pancreas are called celiac plexus. It is usually used to decrease pain caused by pancreatic cancer or chronic pancreatitis.

In case you have any questions, ask your healthcare professional.


Check below the potential benefits of a nerve block:

  • This injection provides temporary or permanent relief of pain. As a result, you can perform your daily tasks better day to day.
  • Moreover, it also can decrease temporarily or permanently the inflammation in the affected nerves and help to heal them.
  • Nerve blocks can also help to diagnose the cause of pain if the doctor does not know the exact cause or source.

Additionally, not everyone can notice pain relief from nerve blocks. In such cases, they can choose other treatment options. Discuss with your healthcare provider for more details.


An individual may experience nerve block complications in rare cases. However, the risks and side effects of nerve blocks are different because it depends on the type of nerve block you are using. For example, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyes, or hoarseness (stellate ganglion block). Gastroparesis can occur due to the celiac plexus block. Check below for other nerve block complications:

  • Bleeding or infection at the site of application
  • Delivery of the medicine into the bloodstream
  • Unusual spread of the medicine to other nerves or spinal canal

It is recommended to discuss with your doctor about risks and benefits before getting this medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after a nerve block injection?

After you receive this injection, a rest of 15-30 minutes is required to let the medicine take effect. It is done to see if you do not have any side effects or complications. Thereafter, you can go home.

How long will last a nerve block?

The relief of pain due to a nerve block fluctuates among patients. It may last from several days to years. However, some patients may get relief from a single injection while others may need multiple nerve block injections. Furthermore, some people do not experience any improvements after this injection, which makes them seek other treatment options.

When should I call my doctor?

It is advised to visit your doctor right away if you experience any symptoms or complications due to a nerve block. Examples include infection, burning pain, weakness, tingling, or others.

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