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Nerve Blocks vs Epidural Injections: How Do They Differ?

Apr 17, 2023
Do you have pain that hasn’t improved despite conventional medical care? Don’t give in and spend your days struggling with discomfort. Instead, learn about advanced pain management treatments like nerve blocks and epidural injections.

Nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections are two essential treatments for managing pain. Both involve injections containing an anesthetic medication. But that’s where their similarities end.

The skilled pain management specialists at Alliance Spine & Pain Centers use nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections to ease pain throughout the body, but each injection treats different conditions and body areas. Let’s explore the benefits of each one.

Nerve blocks work throughout the body

A nerve block is an injection of a local anesthetic, either alone or with another medication. Anesthetics stop pain by preventing nerves from picking up and sending pain signals to your brain.

We can inject a nerve block anywhere in your body. As a result, this treatment relieves pain caused by many health conditions, including:

  • Shingles
  • Angina
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • Cluster headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Knee pain
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Complex regional pain syndrome

A nerve block may ease your pain for days, weeks, months, or longer. We may include another medication with the anesthetic that produces longer-lasting results. Or you may experience extended pain relief with a series of nerve blocks.

If a nerve block relieves your pain for a short time, we can recommend other treatments. For example, we can perform radiofrequency ablation to wound the nerve. The wound stops pain signals for nine months or longer, depending on how long it takes the nerve to heal.

Epidural steroid injections target spinal nerves

Epidural steroid injections treat inflamed nerves in the epidural space, an area between the spinal nerves and vertebrae. We may recommend an epidural steroid injection when a problem in your spine pinches the nerves. The inflamed nerves cause neck, back, leg, and arm pain.

Many patients get epidural steroid injections to relieve pain caused by:

  • Sciatica
  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Bone spurs
  • Thickened ligaments

After identifying the nerves causing your pain, we inject the medications into epidural space where the nerves are located. The steroids need a little time to take effect, but your pain eases     as they reduce nerve inflammation.   

Epidural steroid injections typically provide three months of pain relief, but your results may last for weeks or years, depending on the severity of the inflammation and the underlying cause.

Both injections follow similar procedures

Your comfort and safety are the top concerns when we inject medications. We use topical anesthetics to eliminate pain at the injection site and light sedation to help you relax and stay comfortable throughout the procedure.

Nerve block and epidural injections are safe because we use real-time imaging to get a clear view of the nerves and their surrounding tissues. After carefully guiding the needle to the nerve, we release a dye so we can verify your injection will reach the targeted nerves. And then we inject the pain-relieving medication.

If you need relief from any type of pain, a nerve block or epidural steroid injection may help. Don’t wait to call Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to schedule an evaluation and learn about your treatment options.