Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > Nerve Block for Pain Relief
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:
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.
Nerve blocks are used to diagnose the causes of pain. They also are used to treat chronic pain when drugs or other treatments cause bad side effects or do not control pain.
Nerve blocks often relieve pain. Nerve blocks work well for some types of cancer pain, such as pain from cancer in organs such as the pancreas.footnote 1
Nerve blocks can cause serious complications, including paralysis and damage to the arteries that supply blood to the spinal cord. Other possible side effects include severely low blood pressure (hypotension), accidental injection of the alcohol or phenol into an artery, puncture of the lung, damage to the kidneys, diarrhea, and weakness in the legs.
Nerve blocks are not recommended if you have a disease that affects blood clotting, take a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents blood clots, have a bowel obstruction, or have any type of uncontrolled infection.
Doctors can deaden a nerve with a probe that generates intense heat (radiofrequency denervation or ablation) or intense cold (cryoanalgesia).
A nerve block may cause temporary muscle paralysis or a loss of all feeling in the affected area or in the surrounding area.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2013). Adult cancer pain. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, version 1.2013. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/pain.pdf.
Current as ofMarch 27, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineJimmy Ruiz, MD - Medical Oncology, Hematology
Current as of:
March 27, 2018
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz, MD - Medical Oncology, Hematology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.