This procedure is an injection of anesthesia (or an anesthetic/steroid mixture) around the sciatic nerve. It can be used to block the pain of surgery on the knee, leg ankle or foot, or it can be used to manage the pain of chronic issues in the lower extremity.

Nerve Blocks

Different types of nerve blocks are used for different purposes.

  • Therapeutic nerve blocks are used to treat painful conditions. These nerve blocks usually contain a local anesthetic that is used to control acute pain.
  • Diagnostic nerve blocks are used to determine the sources of pain. These blocks typically utilize an anesthetic with a known duration.
  • Nerve blocks can be used, in some cases, to avoid surgery.

Various locations of pain require different nerve block types. Below are a few of the available nerve blocks, followed in parentheses by some of the parts of the body for which they are used. Our physicians can prescribe other nerve blocks. They will be discussed in detail if the provider believes it is an option.

  • Trigeminal nerve blocks (face)
  • Supraorbital nerve block (forehead)
  • Maxillary nerve block (upper jaw)
  • Sphenopalatine nerve block (headache)
  • Cervical epidural, thoracic epidural, and lumbar epidural block (neck and back)
  • Cervical plexus block and cervical paravertebral block (shoulder and upper neck)
  • Brachial plexus block, elbow block, and wrist block (shoulder/arm/hand, elbow, and wrist)
  • Hypogastric block and celiac plexus block (abdomen and pelvis)

Other types of nerve blocks include:

  • Sympathetic nerve block: A sympathetic nerve block is one that is performed to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nervous system. This is a network of nerves extending the length of the spine. Bodily pain is mediated by both sympathetic and somatic nerves. These nerves control some of the involuntary functions of the body, such as opening and narrowing blood vessels.
  • Stellate ganglion block: This is a type of sympathetic nerve block performed to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve group supplying the head, neck, chest, or arms and if it is the source of pain in those areas. Although used mainly as a diagnostic block, the stellate ganglion block may provide pain relief in excess of the duration of the anesthetic.
  • Facet joint block: Also known as a zygapophysial joint block, the facet joint block is performed to determine whether a facet joint is a source of pain. Facet joints are located on the back of the spine, where one vertebra slightly overlaps another. These joints guide and restrict the spine’s movement.

Nerve blocks do have risks and side effects. They include:

  • Elevated blood sugars
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Weight gain
  • Extra energy
  • Soreness at the site of injection
  • Bleeding

Although many kinds of nerve blocks exist, this treatment cannot always be used. If your pain isn't related to pain in a single or small group of nerves, nerve blocks may not be right for you. Your doctor can advise you as to whether this treatment is appropriate for you.

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