Nerve Blocks or Epidural Injections: Which Is Right for You?

Nothing can hijack your entire well-being the way pain can, causing both physical and mental anguish and limiting your activities in significant ways. If you want to free yourself from the prison of pain, there are many treatments out there. The first step is to explore your options with a pain management specialist.

At the Carolinas Center for Advanced Management of Pain, the experts at our six locations in North and South Carolina are devoted to restoring the quality of life of every patient who walks through our doors. To that end, our staff of board-certified anesthesiologists and pain management specialists offer the latest pain management techniques, including epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks.

While both of these therapies may sound like potential oases in your storm of pain, one may work better than the other depending on your unique situation.

A broader approach with epidural injections

Your body’s nervous system starts at your brain and travels down your spinal cord, where it branches out to almost every square inch of your body through 46 miles of nerve pathways. This impressive network is just that — a network — which means that a problem in one area can cause pain in a seemingly unrelated area.

Take, for example, sciatica, which is a common problem with the sciatic nerve in your low back. The hallmark of sciatica, however, isn’t necessarily pain in your back, but pain and numbness that travels down one side of your lower body into one of your legs. This means that treating your pain starts where the nerve itself starts, not where the pain ends up.

With epidural steroid injections, we go straight to the nerve roots located in your spinal canal to prevent both the pain in the immediate area, as well as radiating pain into your extremities.

Your epidural space is located just outside your dural sac, which contains your nerve roots and cerebral fluid. After extensive diagnostic imaging, our doctors locate the nerve root responsible for your pain and inject a steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and a local anesthetic into this space to quiet the nerves and reduce the inflammation that’s irritating the nerve root. Our doctors use X-ray guidance to make sure the injection hits its mark and brings you relief.

This technique works well for herniated discs, failed back surgery syndrome, spinal stenosis, spondylosis, and sciatica.

Honing in with nerve blocks

Another technique for treatment-resistant pain is a nerve block, in which our doctors quiet the nerve responsible for your pain by preventing it from communicating with your brain.

A nerve block is a more targeted therapy that relies on an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain and inflammation in the area, giving your nerve time to repair and heal itself. Our doctors use the same X-ray guidance when administering a nerve block to ensure that they target the correct area.

In some cases, our doctors may also use a nerve block to diagnose the source of your pain. By temporarily “shutting down” a nerve, they can determine whether it was the source of the problem or whether they need to look elsewhere.

Nerve blocks are great treatments for more specific nerve impingement and damage, and we commonly use this technique for our patients who suffer from low back pain, sciatica, chronic regional pain syndrome, a herniated disc, arthritis pain, or pain before or after surgery.

Now that you understand what each of these treatments accomplishes, we can help you determine the best one to address your pain. Give us a call or use the online booking tool to set up an appointment and finally get the relief you’ve been looking for.

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