What to Expect During a Nerve Block Injection

This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis. However, some procedures may require admission. Please consult with your doctor.

Nerve blocks usually take only minutes to administer.

You will be positioned on a table or other surface to allow the doctor access to the site(s) to be injected. The doctor will then identify the spot the needle needs to be placed, using palpation and/or imaging guidance. He or she will clean the area with antiseptic solution, and then the needle will be inserted at a specific depth to deliver the medication as close to the problematic nerve(s) as possible.

More than one injection may be required, depending on how many areas of pain you have or how large an area needs to be covered. The doctor will most likely tell you when he/she inserts the needle and when the injection is done.

When finished, you will be allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes to let the medication take effect. The nurse will also make sure you don’t have any unexpected side effects before you leave the doctor's office.

Other Factors

You will probably feel a "pinch" when the needle is inserted. As soon as the medication is delivered, though, you should feel less discomfort. Sometimes the needle has to be inserted fairly deep to reach the nerve causing your problem. This can be temporarily uncomfortable, but it is important to hold still so that the needle is inserted correctly.

If you require an injection close to a major nerve or bundle of nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, your doctor will tell you to speak up if you get a sudden jolt of pain. This means that the needle has come too close to the major nerve and will need to be retracted and re-positioned. This happens rarely, however, so it should not be a major concern.

After the injection, you will probably experience a sensation of pain relief in the area injected. This will typically last up to one or two weeks, or even permanently in some cases.

Limitations of Nerve Block

Typically, the effects of a nerve block injection are temporary and offer little to no long-term relief. Each individual is different, however.

Nerve block injections are often delivered in a series and then discontinued, depending on the results they achieve. A patient may feel benefits after a round of injections, or none at all. Delivery of the medication to the correct spot can fail, thereby rendering the injection ineffective.

If the nerve blocks don't help alleviate your pain, your doctor may recommend a different treatment approach.