Lumbar spine arthritis causes severe back pain. Conventional treatment for back pain includes pain relief drugs that work by inhibiting the activities of inflammatory substances produced by the immune system. Although pain relief medications provide prompt relief from back pain, the effect of the medication lasts for a few hours, necessitating intake of medications for two or more times a day for several days.
Prolonged use of pain relief drugs produces a number of adverse reactions. For long-term relief from arthritis-related back pain, you can try nerve block treatment. This therapy for treating spinal arthritis pain involves injecting a medication into the spine or nerve that transmits the pain signals. The nerve numbed by the nerve block treatment cannot transmit the pain signal to the brain, thereby reducing the sensation of pain.
Importance of Nerve Block Treatment
The goal of nerve block treatment is to provide long-term relief from back pain. The effect of a single nerve block treatment usually lasts for 6 to 12 months. If spinal pain persists, the treatment is repeated to prevent back pain. It is an effective option for treating acute spinal arthritis back pain. Chronic pain increases the sensitivity of the nerves.
Even a slight movement induces the sensitive nerve to transmit the pain signals, which makes even mild movements painful. In conventional treatments higher doses of pain relief medications is needed for treating pain. In such cases, desensitizing the sensitive nerve with nerve block treatment alleviates pain easily. Nerve blocks are also used for identifying the source of pain to ensure appropriate pain relief treatment.
Components of Nerve Block Treatment
Substances used for desensitizing the nerves include steroids, anesthetics and opioids. These numbing substances are injected into the spine. Lumbar epidural steroid injections are commonly used for treating back pain caused by spinal arthritis. In addition to preventing abnormal transmission of pain signals by the sensitive nerves, steroids help to reduce inflammation of the joints of the lumbar spine.
In case of severe spinal arthritis related back pain, nerve block treatment is used for destroying the nerve that triggers the pain signals. Pure ethanol or phenol is injected to destroy the nerve. The nerve can also be destroyed by severe heat or cold.
When is Nerve Block Treatment Used?
Nerve block treatment is recommended if chronic back pain cannot be controlled with conventional therapies and medications. Lumbar spine arthritis patients who cannot use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral corticosteroids or opioids for pain treatment may find nerve block treatment a suitable option for managing chronic pain.
Side Effects of Nerve Block Treatment
However, serious complications may develop following nerve block treatment. Injecting a numbing agent into the spinal cord may cause paralysis. It may even damage the arteries associated with transportation of blood to the spinal cord. Weakness in the legs, kidney damage, diarrhea and low blood pressure are other possible side effects of nerve block treatment. This treatment for back pain is unsuitable for people on blood thinning medications. People suffering from uncontrolled infection or bowel obstruction should avoid nerve block treatment for managing arthritis related back pain.
Photo Credit: http://www.goodallhospital.org/2011/12/nerve-blocks/