The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


I have heard “horror stories” about pain blocks. Are they true?

No. If done correctly, a pain block is among the simplest, safest and most effective treatments for neck or back problems. Epidural blocks in the low back are helpful for leg pain. Blocks in the neck help arm pain. Occasionally, other types of pain are treated by special types of blocks.

A pain block is just a “shot.” Before the block, a pain medication and some anesthesia are administered. A fine needle is then placed next to the inflamed nerve or painful area using an x-ray machine. A local anesthetic and a long acting steroid medicine are then injected.

The pain relieving steroid which is used is not similar to the muscle building drug abused by some athletes. Instead, it is similar to cortisone. Much as cortisone cream will ease the inflammation of a rash, injected steroid will help calm an inflamed and painful nerve.

Most patients have immediate improvement. Relief can be complete and permanent. When they work, blocks can eliminate the need for back surgery. Sometimes the pain can come back and up to three blocks are needed. Although straightforward, blocks should only be done by spine doctors who specialize in this type of procedure. Pain blocks do not work for everyone.



The information in this site briefly describes issues related to medical treatments, and has been licensed by from Northern California Neurosurgery Medical Group, Inc., who is solely responsible for said content.  This web site is not a substitute for good medical care or for a consultation with a spine specialist. It should not be used to plan your treatment. The well considered advice of a specialist who has personally examined you is always superior to even the best internet pages.

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Last modified: 07/27/08