Continuous catheter nerve blocks reduce the need for high doses of oral pain medicine and are a safer pain management alternative to opioids.
A continuous catheter nerve block (also called a continuous peripheral nerve block) helps manage chronic pain as an effective and safe pain management alternative to opioids. The nerve block effectively reduces the need for high doses of oral pain medications while typically having fewer side effects. Once the catheter is in place, the patient can continue to use it for long-term pain management.
A catheter is a threadlike soft plastic tube placed under the skin near the peripheral nerve responsible for the pain. The catheter delivers a continuous supply of pain medication to the body’s specific area to help control the pain.
Continuous catheter nerve blocks are an ideal alternative to opioid medications, which have the risk of abuse, dependence, and possible overdose. The nerve block is a way to optimize sensory blocking with minimal residual motor blocking.
Conditions Treated with Continuous Catheter Nerve Blocks
In addition to helping with pain management following surgery, continuous catheter nerve blocks effectively manage chronic pain. Some of the chronic pain conditions in which they are most often helpful include:
The procedure can provide pain management following traumatic fractures (rib and femur), frozen shoulder, and treating abdominal wall pain during pregnancy. It provides extended pain management following surgery, including surgery performed on an outpatient basis.
How is a Continuous Catheter Nerve Block Performed?
Using ultrasound guidance, the pain doctor inserts a hollow needle next to the targeted nerve. Once the needle is in place, the doctor advances a catheter through the needle into position next to the nerve. The needle is removed, leaving the catheter in place. The doctor then secures the catheter to the skin with a bandage and liquid adhesive to keep it in place.
The catheter is attached to a container of pain medication. The container, typically the size of a softball, is kept in a carrying pouch worn or carried on the body, allowing the catheter to deliver a continuous flow of medication to the affected nerve area.
The continuous catheter nerve block is beneficial for patients by:
Significantly reducing pain.
Decreasing the need for pain pills.
Lessened side effects of oral pain medication (nausea, itching, and sleepiness).
Allow easier participation in physical therapy, if needed.
Who Can Benefit from a Continuous Catheter Nerve Block?
Research has shown that people who have a continuous catheter nerve block for hard-to-control pain have more pain relief and fewer side effects than many other chronic pain treatments.
The researchfound the procedure to be an excellent pain treatment option for those who have problems tolerating anesthesia, do not want to take pain medications, or do not tolerate pain medications in general. Continuous catheter nerve blocks are also a safe and effective treatment for pediatric pain patients.
Rawal and Ilfeld provide two prospective randomized studies designed to examine the effectiveness of ambulatory continuous peripheral nerve blocks. The results of two randomized studies (Rawal et al. and Klein) of outpatient continuous catheter nerve blocks are compelling because the studies found a reduction in pain scores, low opioid consumption, and high patient satisfaction. There were also fewer logistical obstacles with home continuous catheter nerve blocks than standard oral pharmacologic management of post-operative pain.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including continuous catheter nerve blocks. Using a comprehensive approach and cutting edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates.