Treatments – Nerve Blocks



One of the first treatments, other than medication, that I tried were nerve blocks.

I would meet with my Pain Management doctor and assess my pain. From January until June I went once a month and received a block. I received a lumbar sympathetic nerve block and the hope was that it would help calm the nerves in my leg. Some nerve blocks provided great relief while others didn’t seem to do much. Since I seemed to be getting one every month, my mom was nervous with the frequency of nerve blocks I was receiving. My doctor said that they were safe enough that if you did them every month for the rest of your life you’d be fine.

My anxiety was through the roof on some days and I couldn’t wait to get into the back to get my IV hooked up to calm me down. I had mine done at St. Clair Hospital and before getting back to the pre-op area they’d have me sit in a waiting room. Sometimes I sat in the waiting room for like 10 minutes and others I sat there for a looooooong time. They had a tv in the back and I’d always try to zone out to whatever was on to help relax my nerves. I didn’t really help, but I’d always try.

Once they took me back the nurse would hook me up to the IV and I would wait for the anesethiologist. Once he went over what meds he was going to give me they’d take me back to the operating room. I wasn’t put completely under, but they’d put me in a twilight state to help me relax.

This is a great depiction of the procedure! This is from a site depiction of the Lumbar Sympathetic Block done by Pitt.Edu
This is a great depiction of the procedure! This is from a site depiction of the Lumbar Sympathetic Block done by Pitt.Edu

Laying on the operating table I’d be hooked up to wires to monitor my vitals and then I’d be given the relaxing meds. I’d lay on my stomach and an x-ray type machine would be put over my back. On a screen right in front of me would display all the nerves in my lower back. They would numb up my back and then stick a needle, long enough to hit the right nerve, into my back. It sounds like it would really hurt, but by this time you’re very relaxed and hardly realize what’s all going on. It’s more of an uncomfortable feeling rather than pain. Once the right nerve is hit, the anesthetic medicine is injected and the needle is pulled out. That’s it! The whole thing takes about 5 minutes (if that!).

I would always go into the procedure very anxious about the pain of the procedure and my Doc always joked about how EVERY TIME (after the first one of course) I would remark “this one didn’t hurt as much as the last one”. Haha! It was the same procedure every time, so prettyyyyy sure I just wouldn’t really remember what happened the time before.

Little by little my nerves seemed to start to relax. As my knee relaxed my range of motion began to come back. Some nerve blocks I could see a big difference within 3-4 days, others I never seemed to see a big difference. This, apparently, is a typical reaction. Each person can and will react differently to the blocks. I feel like they really helped in my recovery and if your doctor has mentioned them to you I highly suggest you look more into them.

If you have any specific questions about the procedure please don’t hesitate to ask me!

Wishing you a pain free day!