Intercostal Nerve Blocks

An intercostal Nerve block is an injection that helps in relieving pain in the chest area caused by either herpes zoster (shingles) or by a surgical incision. These nerves are located under each rib. Pain is felt around this area if one of the nerves or the tissue gets irritated or inflamed.

How is it performed?

An intravenous medication will be given to relax you. Then you will be told to lie on the other side not causing pain. The doctor will use an antiseptic to clean the area near your ribs. Then

  • A needle will be inserted under your rib and anesthesia will be injected.
  • A second needle will be inserted with the help of x-ray guidance followed by a injection of steroid pain medication.

Intercostal Nerve Block injection

Who are the candidates?

This procedure will be highly effective for those who are suffering from pain in the rib area due to trauma either via rib fractures, repetitive overhead maneuvers, shingles pain, coughing etc.

How long it takes?

Depending on the levels that are needed to be blocked, the process will take 10 to 20 minutes.


After the procedure, recovery signs may be seen in about 20 to 60 minutes. After monitoring that the signs are stable, the patient is allowed to leave. However, soreness or numbness may be felt at the site of incision.


Some patients feel pain relief immediately after the injection but the pain may also return in few hours when the anesthesia effect wears off. In two to three days when the steroid begins to work, a marked relief in pain is experienced.