A Comprehensive Guide to Nerve Blocks for Neck, Back, and Joint Pain

When you find yourself dealing with chronic neck, back, or joint pain as a constant companion in your daily life, it can have a profound impact, disrupting your routines and overall well-being.  If you’re well-acquainted with the persistent and unyielding nature of pain in these areas, you’re not alone in your struggle. Fortunately, there’s a potential solution in nerve blocks – a medical procedure involving injections that can provide significant, often long-lasting relief from pain.[1]

So, whether you’re contending with the challenges of ongoing chronic pain or recovering from a recent injury, nerve blocks could offer the effective relief you’ve been seeking, leading the way toward a more comfortable and pain-free future.


What is a nerve block?

A nerve block involves injecting medication near a specific nerve to provide temporary or prolonged pain relief. By combining an anti-inflammatory medication with a local anesthetic, these can reduce inflammation and promote the healing of damaged nerves.

Nerves act as the body’s communication cables, transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body, governing sensations, muscle movements, and various bodily functions. While nerve blocks primarily address pain signaling issues, they can also affect other nerve functions.[2]

The effects of a nerve block are usually quick but temporary. Some people may find relief with one injection, while others may require multiple. Unfortunately, not everyone will respond to these, and alternative treatments may be necessary for symptom management.


surgeon taking off medical gloves near patient in surgery room

What is the purpose of a nerve block?

Nerve blocks serve three main purposes: [3] [4]

  1. Therapeutic Nerve Blocks: These provide temporary relief from acute or chronic pain. The block can reduce inflammation and support nerve healing, ultimately alleviating pain.
  2. Diagnostic Nerve Blocks: A diagnostic nerve block is used when dealing with pain whose source remains unclear. If the injection brings relief, it indicates that the targeted nerves are likely responsible for the pain. If no relief occurs, the pain likely originates from a different source.
  3. Anesthetic Nerve Blocks: Anesthesiologists and surgeons often use nerve blocks before surgeries to manage post-procedure pain.


Four Primary Types of Nerve Blocks

There are four primary types of nerve blocks, each used for different purposes and targeting specific nerves or nerve groups:

  1. Epidural Nerve Block: An epidural nerve block involves injecting medication into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord.[5] It is often used for pain relief during childbirth and for managing chronic back pain, radiculopathy, or other conditions affecting the spine and lower extremities.
  2. Spinal Nerve Block (or Spinal Anesthesia): This type of nerve block involves injecting anesthesia into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. It is commonly used for surgeries, particularly those in the lower abdomen, lower back, or lower extremities.
  3. Peripheral Nerve Block: Peripheral nerve blocks target specific nerves outside the spinal column.[6] These blocks are used for regional anesthesia and can relieve pain in specific areas, such as the arm or leg.
  4. Sympathetic Nerve Block: This type of nerve block addresses pain related to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions.[7] They are often used for conditions like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and involve blocking the sympathetic nerves responsible for pain and other symptoms in the affected area.


Pain in Lower Back. Sciatica Nerve Pain.

When are nerve blocks used?

These are primarily used to prevent or manage pain, often proving more effective than intravenous medications. Nerve blocks can be recommended for various types of pain management, including:

  • Labor and childbirth pain
  • Surgical pain
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Low back pain and Sciatica
  • Migraine relief
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Neck pain from herniated discs
  • Blood vessel spasms
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome


woman with neck pain

Nerve Blocks for Neck, Back, and Joint Pain

These blocks act as a strategic blockade along the path of pain signals from specific nerves to the brain. This intervention essentially functions as a “stop sign” for pain, preventing it from reaching the brain and registering as discomfort.

For patients experiencing back pain, we administer nerve blocks to target the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals originating from the affected area of the back. This could be due to various reasons, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other underlying conditions.

For patients dealing with neck and joint pain, we use nerve blocks following a similar principle, albeit with a focus on the specific nerves that are instrumental in conveying pain signals from the afflicted neck or joint area to the brain.

  • Neck Pain: When it comes to neck pain, the cervical spine and surrounding structures may give rise to persistent discomfort. Conditions such as cervical disc herniation, cervical radiculopathy, or cervical facet joint syndrome can all contribute to neck pain. In these instances, targeted nerve blocks are administered to address the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals originating from the cervical region.
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain, be it in the knee, hip, shoulder, or any other joint, can be attributed to various factors, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or acute injuries. Nerve blocks can offer a tailored solution for these cases, effectively targeting the nerves that convert pain signals from the affected joint to the brain.


How long do nerve blocks last?

The pain relief you get from a nerve block is different for everyone. Some people might feel better for a few days, weeks, or even months, while others might find relief that lasts for years. It really depends on how your body reacts.

One nerve block injection can do the trick for some lucky individuals and provide lasting relief. But, for others, it might take a few rounds of treatments to get the best results. And, in some cases, unfortunately, nerve blocks may not bring any relief from pain.


Nerve Block Risks and Side Effects

Complications from nerve blocks are uncommon, and they are generally considered safe. But in general, the risks and side effects of nerve blocks include:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Infection at the injection site
  • Bleeding or bruising at the injection site
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary weakness or numbness


man celebrating being pain free

Your Path to a Pain-Free Future Begins with Sonoran Pain and Spine

Nerve blocks offer targeted relief for various pain conditions, from neck and back pain to chronic issues like arthritis and migraines. These procedures can significantly improve your quality of life by interrupting pain signals at the source.

At Sonoran Pain and Spine, we specialize in identifying the root causes of your back pain and providing personalized, non-surgical pain management plans, like nerve blocks, to suit your specific needs so that you can get back to enjoying your everyday life.

Don’t wait – take action today.  Schedule an appointment to start your journey toward a pain-free future.



  1. “Nerve Blocks | Johns Hopkins Medicine.” https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/nerve-blocks. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  2. “Nerve Block Anesthesia – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431109/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  3. “The Efficacy of Therapeutic Selective Nerve Block in Treating … – NCBI.” 18 Nov. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7680787/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  4. “Diagnostic nerve blocks in chronic pain – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12516892/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  5. “Epidural Anesthesia – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542219/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  6. “Peripheral Nerve Blocks – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 6 Jul. 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459210/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.
  7. “Sympathetic Nerve Block – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557637/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.