There are many treatments available for back pain that can be tried, but what can be done when the pain is so intense that you don’t feel able to do your physiotherapy exercises because of it. While the option to take stronger mediation is always there more people are reluctant to take strong pain relievers for fear of becoming addicted to them. How many times have we seen articles about this person or that who after a back injury wound up on heavy pain relievers and became addicted to them for years? No one wants that scenario for his or her lives, yet the issue still remains; what can be done about the intense back pain?
One alternative is a nerve block. A nerve block is not something done lightly at the request of the patient who has some back pain and wants tot get on with their lives. This treatment was originally designed as a surgical technique but now is used for pain; often back pain that is persistent, very painful and can be traced accurately to a nerve.
Sometimes based on the back pain the specific nerve cannot be found and so instead a block that needn’t be specific, an epidural steroid injection, is used. Basically the block used is a type of anesthetic or anti-inflammatory, which by going into the nerves can diminish the pain while allowing a better range of movement. If too much is used the pain will disappear, but paralysis could set in, even if only temporarily. The medication will actually leave a person’s body within hours to days but its effects last much longer.
Another type of block is the facet block. This works because it is often the facet joints that cause back pain. So if an injection is made into the facet joints the pain in a person’s back will be helped. The facet joints often cause not only pain in a certain area, like the lower back, but they often are the cause of radiating pain into the legs, arms or even a person’s bum.
There are other types of nerve blocks that are not only pain relievers but that may destroy the nerve endings or nerve tissue in the painful area to try to stop the chronic back pain from returning. If your health care provider is considering a nerve block you should understand that this alone would not stop the back pain. While the pain is diminished it is important to follow though with an exercise program designed by your doctor or physiotherapist to enable you to build up strength in the lower back, where you are suffering the pain, as well as to increase freedom of movement and flexibility.
Nerve blocks are not the answer for everyone. Sometimes the pain can be so bad that a drastic solution is needed. Be certain to discuss with your physician any dangers they see in the use of a nerve block and if the cessation of pain outweighs those concerns.