They serve as a means of relieving pain caused by injuries or other sorts of medical conditions. Nerve blocks can be performed in several different ways, using both temporary and permanent measures, but the end goal is always the same — to stop the pain messages sent by the nerves located in the specific parts of a human body. Depending on the approach, it can also be used for diagnostic reasons, in order to identify the source of physical discomfort. Today we’ll have a closer look on neural blockade procedures and their application in terms of chronic ache.
All you need to know about nerve blocks
As mentioned above, a nerve block is applied to either chemically or physically interrupt the pain signals transferred to the brain. The effects and the procedure itself are different, depending on the method — from a single injection of local anaesthesia, to actually damaging the root. First, let’s focus on the specific kinds of neural blockades, their goals, and expected results.
Temporary nerve blocks are often applied for the sake of getting through a surgery or other medical procedure. This includes all kinds of anaesthetic chemicals applied locally (in the specific area that needs to be numbed) or generally — in the latter case they are usually injected into the area around the spinal cord. Such measures not only help you endure the procedure itself, but they also cut out the acute pain in the post-surgery period. In some instances, they also support the healing process, by relieving the irritation and inflammation. Temporal solutions might, however, be used repeatedly over time to aid some chronic pain problems.
When it comes to permanent (or at least long-term) neural blockades, there are basically two main ways. It can either be performed by means of chemical injection — compounds based on alcohol, phenol, or even thermal agents that neutralise or simply damage the nerve — or by surgically removing certain small areas of the neural network. Permanent blockades are reserved to the most severe cases of chronic pain, such as those cancer-inflicted.
Nerve blocks and chronic pain
Long-lasting health conditions may involve chronic pain (constant or reoccurring) that affects the daily functioning of an individual. That’s one of the main cases for a neural blockade to be applied — to eliminate the debilitating discomfort that causes physical impairment and precludes normal activities. Such pain usually comes from the spine, but it’s also possible for it to originate from limbs or the neck or even buttocks.
Applying a nerve block in the context of a chronic pain issue might also serve as a diagnostic measure. Interrupting specific neural signals might allow the doctors to pinpoint the source of physical discomfort, and therefore shed some light on appropriate therapy options. In some cases, it also helps with the healing process, preventing nerve irritation or even relieving from inflammation within areas affected by an injury. What’s more, even with permanent solutions the neural connections might regrow overtime (although in most cases it’s a matter of years, rather than months).
Risk and potential side effects of nerve blocks
All medical procedures carry a certain amount of risk. In terms of neural blockades, it includes bleeding and — in worse cases — infection around the injection point. There’s also the hazard of accidentally damaging the wrong nerves, either by spilling the chemical agent into the adjacent area, or by physically cutting it. Other risks involve permanent damage when it’s not intended. There are also some common side effects that are not so severe — such as lasting numbness and weakness, or even temporary muscle paralysis. All things considered, however, the procedure is rather safe.
In chronic pain cases, nerve blocks might provide a much-needed relief allow the patient to function normally on a daily basis. To learn more, feel free to check other articles available on our website. Also, contact us in case of any further questions.
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