A nerve block is an injection to decrease inflammation or “turn off” a pain signal along a specific distribution of nerve. Imaging guidance may be used to place the needle in the right location for maximum benefit. A nerve block may allow a damaged nerve time to heal, provide temporary pain relief and help identify a more specific cause of pain.

This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Tell your doctor if there’s a possibility you are pregnant. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave jewelry at home

This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis. However, some patients may require admission following the procedure.

Nerve blocks usually take only minutes to administer.

You will be positioned on a table or other surface to allow the doctor access to the site(s) to be injected. The doctor will then identify the spot the needle needs to be placed, using palpation and/or imaging guidance. He or she will clean the area with antiseptic solution, and then the needle will be inserted at a specific depth to deliver the medication as close to the problematic nerve(s) as possible. Contrast material may be injected to confirm needle position prior to injection of medicine.

More than one injection may be required, depending on how many areas of pain you have or how large an area needs to be covered. The doctor will most likely tell you when he or she inserts the needle and when the injection is done.

When finished, you will be allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes to let the medication take effect. The nurse will also make sure you don’t have any unexpected side effects before you leave the doctor’s office.