Injections of medication into the area near a nerve, or group of nerves, can be more effective than oral medication because the medication is delivered directly to the part of the body that is in pain. Medications injected may include steroids, local anesthetics, and opioids:
- Steroid injections may reduce the inflammation and irritation to that nerve and reduce pain.
- Local anesthetics may also break the cycle of pain and provide some relief of the patient's chronic pain.
- Opioid injections also provide powerful, short-term pain relief.
By reducing irritation, the injections may help the affected nerve, or nerves, heal. Having a nerve block may also improve symptoms enough for the person to take a more active part in physical therapy.
Nerve blocks are used to target pain throughout the body, such as back, neck, head, shoulder, or leg pain. If back pain is the problem, an epidural pain block may be recommended. In an epidural nerve block, a corticosteroid medication is injected into the area around the spinal column known as the epidural space.
Nerve blocks are generally most effective when a small number of nerves-or a single nerve-is causing pain. Pain relief is usually immediate. The duration of pain relief varies with the individual, and some people have injections every few months. Pain blocks are typically administered in an outpatient procedure.