Role Of Intercostal Nerve Blocks In Managing Pain

Intercostal nerve blocks are injections of medication that helps relieve pain in the chest area caused by a herpes zoster infection. Intercostal nerves are located under our each rib. When one of these nerves or the tissue around these nerves gets irritated or inflamed, it can cause pain.

Goal of intercostal nerve blocks

The goal of intercostal nerve blocks is to provide pain relief so that you are able to resume normal activities. The steroid helps to decrease inflammation in the specific location where it is needed the most. The steroid may help the injury to heal by reducing inflammation. It may provide permanent relief or a period of a few weeks or months while the injury is healing.

 How intercostal nerve blocks done?

You will remain awake during the entire process of intercostal nerve blocks and your blood pressure, breathing and heart rate are continually monitored. You will ask to lie face down on the procedure table and the injection site (skin near your ribs) is cleansed with an antiseptic. Then doctor will;

  • Insert a thin needle through the skin, muscle and soft tissues, so there is some slight discomfort involved.
  • X-ray guidance will be used before inserting a second needle and inject a steroid pain medication.
  • An injection of local anesthetic or numbing or pain medication will be administered in the area where you are experiencing pain.

Usually, the procedure of intercostal nerve blocks takes less than 30 minutes, and the patient can go home the same day.

Results of the procedure

Some patients report pain relief immediately after the intercostal nerve block injection, but the pain may return after few hours as the anesthetic wears off. Longer term pain relief usually begins in two to three days, once the steroid starts to work. The duration of pain relief is different for every patient. For some, the relief lasts several months. You can have periodic injections to stay pain-free if the treatment works for you.

What happens after the nerve blocks?

You should strictly follow some restrictions after intercostal nerve blocks;

  • Do not drive for the remaining day.
  • Try to avoid taking a tub bath or soak in water (pool, hot tub) for at least 24 hours after the injection.
  • Wait for three days before resuming physical therapy

 What are the risks?

The complications of intercostal nerve blocks are very low. However there could be;

  • Collapsed lung, infection, nerve damage and bleeding
  • Soreness or bruising at the injection site

Zaki Anwar MD is an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist. He has great expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, sciatica pain and various pain conditions. His center has offering various treatment options including stem cell therapy, amniotic fluid injection and much more.

For further queries call on 815.412.6166