Spine & Orthopedic Pain Centers

Intercostal Nerve Block

An intercostal nerve block is performed to both diagnose and treat painful conditions that arise from the upper abdomen or chest, either from internal damage or diseases such as herpes zoster (shingles).

The intercostal muscles are behind the ribs. The rib cage is composed of muscles and the rib bone. Chest or abdominal pain can be related to pain in these areas. An intercostal nerve block is a largely non-invasive procedure in which a pain blocking injection is delivered to the intercostal nerves that are responsible for the intercostal muscles. This reduces painful signals sent from the chest and abdomen to the brain. This may effectively treat pain in these regions.

A nerve block can confirm if the nerve(s) in question are responsible for consistent pain signaling. If the patient does not have a significant analgesic response to a diagnostic block, then the nerve is not implicated in the pain condition. If the block works, it is both diagnostic in nature as well to allow progression to pulsed Radiofrequency Ablation which can offer a more long-term treatment”

Intercostal nerve blocks, as applied in pain relief therapy, can achieve significant short-term inhibition of pain in the chest or abdomen.



What Conditions Might an Intercostal Nerve Block Treat?

Intercostal nerve blocks are used by physicians treating chronic pain and inflammation in the abdomen or chest. Patients with pain that is resistant to opioid treatments, or who wish to avoid using them, often find intercostal nerve blocks are a viable and less risky pain management option. Surgeons may also use intercostal nerve blocks as part of analgesia during major thoracic or abdominal procedures. Any trauma or disease that affects this region may benefit from an intercostal nerve block.

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