A nerve block (also called a neural blockade) can help prevent or manage pain. The procedure involves the application of medicine to a nerve to block pain signals from reaching the brain from that nerve. A common nerve block is an epidural to help ease the pain of labor and delivery for pregnant women.

Nerve blocks can be temporary or long-lasting. They are especially helpful in managing chronic, acute, and short-term pain. A nerve block can also help reduce nerve irritation to allow healing.

 Nerve blocks can help manage chronic pain originating in the spine, arms, legs, neck, and buttocks. A nerve block is also helpful in discovering the exact source of pain. In addition to relieving pain, nerve blocks can stop the sensation of feeling during surgery.

Gallery of Nerve Block Images

Celiac Plexus Block

celiac plexus block is a minimally invasive pain management procedure that can help relieve abdominal pain commonly caused by cancer or chronic pancreatitis. The treatment involves an injection of numbing medicine directly into the celiac plexus nerve bundle, which surrounds the aorta under the diaphragm. Cancerous tumors pressing on these nerves can cause pain.

Illustration of Celiac Plexus Nerves and Spine

Courtesy: ViewMedica

Illustration of Celiac Plexus and Surrounding Anatomy

Courtesy: 'Journal of Pain Research 2019 12 307-315‘ Originally published by and used with permission from
Dove Medical Press Ltd.

Fluoroscope Image of Needle Placement

Courtesy: ViewMedica

Continuous Catheter Nerve Block

A continuous catheter nerve block (also called a continuous peripheral nerve block) can help manage chronic pain by providing pain relief medicine to a specific area of the body. The nerve block is a safer alternative to opioids and typically has fewer side effects, often caused by high doses of oral pain medications.

The nerve block delivers a continuous supply of pain medication by a catheter, a threadlike soft plastic tube placed under the skin near the nerve responsible for the pain. Once in place, the catheter can provide long-term pain management; the most common is to help control post-operative pain. However, catheter nerve blocks effectively treat all types of pain, especially chronic pain that is unresponsive to more conservative treatments, such as cancer-induced pain, complex regional pain syndrome, or phantom limb pain.

Continuous Catheter Nerve Block

Woman in hospital child birthing room

Sonography-Guided Femoral Nerve Block

PhilippN / Courtesy: Wikimedia.org

Ganglion Impar Block

A ganglion impar block is an injection into a nerve bundle just in front of the lowest part of the spine (sacrum) and just above the tailbone (coccyx). The nerves typically control blood flow and can be the source of long-lasting (chronic) pain. The block can be an effective treatment option for chronic pelvic, groin, and rectal pain. It can also be effective in treating pain in the tailbone (coccydynia), a condition more common in women than men.

A ganglion impart block can also be effective in helping diagnose the cause of the pain.

Illustration of Ultrasound-Guided Ganglion Impar Block


Illustration of the placement of the ultrasound probe and needle over the sacrococcygeal joint between the sacrum and the base of the coccyx (tailbone)

Fluoroscope Image of Needle Placement

Courtesy: ViewMedica

Fluoroscopic view of injections of contrast (black arrows) during lumbar sympathetic ganglion block

Intercostal Nerve Block

An intercostal nerve block can help relieve intercostal neuralgia, a nerve pain that affects the ribs, chest, or upper abdominal area. The nerves are a part of the peripheral nervous system and are associated with voluntary movements of the skeletal muscles.

An intercostal nerve block consists of a steroid injection in the chest targeting the intercostal nerves. The injection consists of a steroid medication and a local anesthetic to help reduce the inflammation and pain resulting from surgery or a herpes zoster infection (shingles).

In some cases, an intercostal nerve block can help diagnose the source of pain in the chest wall.

Intercostal Nerve Block Injection

Doctor injecting medication into the space (area between the ribs) of a patient

Intercostal Nerve Block


With the palpating hand holding the needle firmly and resting securely on the patient’s back, the injecting hand gently “walks” the needle while the skin is allowed to move back over the rib

Interscalene Block

An interscalene block is the injection of a local anesthetic around the brachial plexus near the scalene muscles on each side of the neck. The scalene muscles allow the neck to bend and rotate and assist in breathing.

The procedure provides pain management for shoulder and upper arm surgery patients. Surgeons often perform shoulder surgery using an interscalene block in conjunction with general anesthesia. The block can help patients begin physical therapy and other treatments to speed healing.

Interscalene Block


Medial Branch Block

A medial branch block is a minimally invasive, non-surgical injection to treat neck and back pain. The block is similar to a facet injection; however, the medial branch block injects medicine outside the joint space. A facet injection places the medication directly into the facet joint. Both treatments, however, can help block pain signals from reaching the brain.

The block consists of injecting an anesthetic near small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint where the pain originates. Typically, several facet joints receive an injection during the procedure.

A medial branch block is primarily a diagnostic procedure. If there is a marked improvement in pain immediately after the injection, the procedure confirms the facet joint where the pain originates. The block can help diagnose and relieve sacroiliac joint pain and osteoarthritis of the back.

Ultrasound-Guided Medial Branch Block to Facet Joint

Kwangju Christian Hospital, Gwangju, Korea

Medial Branch Block Fluroscope Image

Kwangju Christian Hospital, Gwangju, Korea

The needle is targeted just lateral to the facet joint;  SP – spinous process; FJ – facet joint; TP – transverse process

Obturator Nerve Block

An obturator nerve block is an injection of medicine directly into the nerve to stop pain signals from reaching the brain. The obturator nerve provides both motor function to muscles in the leg and sensory functions to a portion of the thigh skin.

The injection can consist of a local anesthetic to numb pain or a steroid to help reduce inflammation. A fluoroscope (x-ray) or ultrasound helps with precise needle placement.

Blocking the obturator nerves can help treat hip pain associated with cerebral palsy and muscle spasms associated with paralysis of the legs.

Area Affected by Obturator Nerve Block


Illustration of Obturator Nerve Block Needle Insertion


Obturator Nerve Block is used to treat chronic hip and leg pain in Lakeland, Florida
Obturator Nerve location in the leg

Occipital Nerve Block