Lower back pain is among the most common issues out there, regardless of where you are from or what you do for a living. It can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, an injury or perhaps an affection. Sciatica is among the most popular contributors to it and it targets the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lower back to the feet.
There are more procedures to get rid of sciatica and many of them imply rest, specific exercises and some lifestyle changes – painkillers may also be prescribed to help people get rid of the excruciating pain. However, some doctors will also recommend the nerve block for sciatica. Now, what does this procedure involve and how is it done?
Nerve block for sciatica
A nerve block for sciatica is basically a multi-functional therapy. The primary role is to prevent the patient from taking medications by reducing the pains and discomfort. It is also used to diagnose sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest in your body – after all, it covers more than half of your body. Therefore, there are numerous parts that could lead to the pain – it might be in the thighs or the knees, for instance.
The nerve block procedure will practically turn off some of the signals associated with pain. Injured nerves will no longer produce these signals. They will no longer travel to the brain and while the nerve is still affected, the pain is history. Obviously, it is not a treatment for sciatica, but it is one of the therapies used to ameliorate the pain.
A nerve block for sciatica is an injection that goes right in the inflammation. Since such a deep injection could be painful, it is usually given in conjunction with another injection – a local anesthetic. Its effectiveness makes this treatment one of the most common solutions for those who experience intense pains, be it because of sciatica or a different type of affection – even injuries.
It is critical to understand that a nerve block for sciatica is a medical procedure. It implies performing some tests prior to it, as the doctor must identify the affected area. Therefore, it is not the type of treatment you can have at home.
Nerve block for sciatica procedure
The nerve block for sciatica must be performed in a clinic, by a specialist doctor – it is not the type of therapy you can have at home. There are not too many procedures for it. If you want anesthesia, you will need someone to take you back home. Plus, you should not eat or drink anything about six hours before the procedure.
A local anesthetic will be used anyway, as you will practically get a painful injection. Once the area is numb, you will have to go on your stomach, side or back – it depends on where the affected area is. The technician will then insert the needle into the affected areas. Most hospitals rely on live X rays – fluoroscopic procedures.
The doctor will then insert contrast dye to ensure the needle is correctly located. An anesthetic will go in the affected area. If your affection is severe and you have a large inflammation, some doctors may also rely on corticosteroid injections, as they are stronger and more effective. All in all, once you are done with the procedure, pain relief becomes a matter of seconds.
Those with severe forms of sciatica may not experience pain relief straight away – in some cases, doctors will administer more injections. On the same note, not feeling any pain relief may also mean that the issue is not associated with sciatica. Therefore, the nerve block for sciatica is also used as a diagnostic tool to eliminate this cause.
The local anesthetic will obviously wear off after a few hours. It will not last forever. At this point, pain may slightly return. Plus, the injection site may also be sore, so you will experience a bit of discomfort. It will last for a couple of days. As for the sciatic pain, it will normally last for a few weeks, yet there are cases when it is permanent. You should be able to return to your daily activities within the next day.
Risks with a nerve block for sciatica
There are no major risks and complications associated with a nerve block for sciatica. In fact, the procedure is considered basic and safe, as long as it is performed in a medical facility, by a trained professional. It is also considered an effective treatment, especially in those who overlooked the disease and experienced severe pains.
With all these, every medical procedure out there comes with some risks and potential side effects and the nerve block for sciatica makes no exception either. Soreness around the injection site is quite normal and common in every injection, regardless of the purpose. Some patients may also experience vomiting, headaches or nausea.
While rare, the risk to medicate the wrong nerve if they are close together may also occur. It is not a major risk, but it could cause some problems. An unexpected spread of the medication around the affected area can also occur. It is not too risky, but it will reduce the intensity and effectiveness of the treatment.
Other potential side effects include bleeding or infections, but they are extremely rare. Such procedures are performed in a clean medical environment, so these effects are less likely to occur. The good news is that overall, the sciatic nerve does not pose too many risks and the procedure will provide quick pain relief with minimum risks.
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