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Do nerve blocks for back pain work for everyone?

The procedure is done in two steps. In the first step, after the nerves in question are identified, a simple anesthetic is injected onto the nerve, which essentially turns the nerve off for a few hours. If the patient’s typical pain is relieved by more than 50 percent within two hours, the test is considered a success and the patient moves on to step two of the process. If there is little or no pain relief after the test, the pain may be coming from a different source and not necessarily the arthritic joint. In this case we would try other treatment options.

In step two, following a successful anesthetic test, again the nerve is identified. However, instead of anesthetic, a special machine delivers energy to the needle tip, which essentially destroys the nerve which should offer the patient long-term pain relief. This process is known as radiofrequency ablation.

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