Often a group of nerves that cause pain to a specific body region can be blocked with the injection of medication. These injections of local anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroids directly to the area of the affected nerve cluster can significantly help with pain control.*
There are multiple kinds of nerve blocks that Dr. Skaribas can utilize depending on the patient’s source of pain.
Splanchnic Nerve block
The splanchnic nerve block is used for the targeted relief of abdominal pain, usually due to chronic pancreatitis or cancer.
The splanchnic nerves are located on both sides of the spine and transmit pain from your organs and abdomen. Blocking these nerves can effectively stop abdominal pain.*
Facet Joint Block
Facet joints are located on the side of each vertebra in the neck and back. They provide stability in the spine and allow motion. Injury or arthritis may cause pain and inflammation within the facet joints. In these cases, an injection of anesthetic near the facet joint can provide relief.*
Pudendal Nerve Diagnostic Blocks
The pudendal nerve transmits sensations of the external genitals, the urethra, the anus, and perineum. It also controls the external anal sphincter and the sphincter muscles of the bladder. If a patient is experiencing pain in these regions and suspected of pudendal neuralgia, a pudendal nerve block is an important diagnostic test.
The nerve is blocked by a local anesthetic to see if symptoms abate after numbing the nerve. The block is applied where the nerve passes between the two ligaments or in the Alcock’s canal.
Dr. Skaribas utilizes the patient history, a physical examination and the results of a pudendal nerve block to determine a diagnosis. If pudendal nerve entrapment is diagnosed, additional blocks utilizing local anesthetics combined with corticosteroids can be applied for longer-term pain relief.*
Sympathetic Nerve Blocks
A sympathetic nerve block is used to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve chain when a patient is experiencing chronic leg and foot pain. The sympathetic nerves are found along the front of the spine and are part of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for control of bodily functions not consciously directed, such as sweating, heart rate, and digestion.
A sympathetic nerve block involves injecting numbing medicine around the sympathetic nerves in the low back or neck. If pain is substantially improved after the injection, then additional blocks may be repeated to further reduce the pain.*
Fluoroscopic image of a sympathetic nerve block performed by Dr. Skaribas.
An Outpatient Procedure
It’s up to the patient whether to have a local anesthetic at the injection site or to use an intravenous medication. In either case, the injection is an outpatient procedure and patients generally do not experience any pain.*
First, Dr. Skaribas will determine the optimum injection site for the patient’s condition. Two injections are then made for each procedure: one utilizes x-ray imaging to locate the injection site accurately and the other contains the medication. By targeting the injection site carefully, only the inflamed area is treated; no more medication is used than necessary.*
Chronic Pain Relief
Most patients experience almost immediate relief after the injection and most can go back to their daily routines right away.* For some patients, the pain does not completely abate. In those cases, Dr. Skaribas simply repeats the treatment to achieve optimum results.*