The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


Are nerve blocks dangerous?

Nerve blocks are routine procedures that generally take five to ten minutes. They can be done with sedation and are rarely painful. Depending on the type of block, success rates can be as high as 95%. Pain relief is often long lasting but can be permanent. Some doctors previously recommended that blocks be done in a series of three. This is not needed in most cases. Just one block is now usually needed. The newer x-ray equipment allows for great accuracy and has eliminated the need for most repeat blocks. A properly done block that works does not need to be repeated and one which does not work on the first attempt will rarely be successful if repeated. Complications are rare. The most feared complication is nerve damage. In the thousands of blocks that I have done, I have only seen that happen once. I have never had a case of infection or bleeding associated with a block though the literature reports that both can occur up to about 1% of the time.



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Last modified: 07/27/08