Reducing Car Accident Pain
It may seem counterintuitive to use an injection to reduce pain. But after a car accident or other personal injury incident, a nerve block, epidural, facet injection, or comparable procedure can greatly reduce the pain patients experience. Read on to learn more about these injections, and how they can dramatically improve patients’ quality of life when incorporated into a pain management regimen.
The Science of Pain
When the body experiences injury, certain nerves immediately send electrical signals to the brain. The body interprets these as pain.
Pain is best understood as a warning signal. It lets patients know that their bodies have been injured, and it’s time to take steps to avoid further injury — such as drawing one’s hand away from a hot stove, or stopping putting pressure on a broken bone.
Unfortunately, even when a patient is taking steps to ensure a swift recovery, the body will continue to send pain signals. And in truly distressing cases, nerves may habituate to sending pain signals, and may continue to send pain signals to the brain, even when the injury is healed. This results in chronic pain.
How Pain-Relieving Injections Work
Pain-relieving injections like nerve blocks, epidurals, and facet injections relieve pain by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. The procedure itself takes only about 5-10 minutes — enough time to find the proper site and administer the injection.
The injection usually includes both an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory medication. These disrupt the body’s normal pain signals temporarily, providing relief within about 10-20 minutes. The duration of the pain relief will vary depending on the type of medication injected, and the procedure used. Nerve blocks can be powerful on their own, but doctors also sometimes couple them with other pain-relieving methods to provide greater relief.
There are several kinds of pain-relieving injections commonly used, in addition to simple nerve blocks. For instance:
- An epidural nerve block, sometimes just called an “epidural”, goes into the “epidural space” surrounding the spinal cord. It blocks the spinal cord’s nerves from relaying pain signals.
- A facet injection, or facet joint injection, goes into one of the spine’s facet joints. This injection can relieve spinal pain. Doctors also commonly use a facet injection called a “diagnostic” nerve block. If a patient’s pain is completely relieved by this injection, they know where the pain is coming from.
These kinds of injections aren’t for every situation. They work best when the pain is localized to a specific area of the body. Otherwise, it’s often best to go with another method of pain relief.
Safe and Effective
There are some risks associated with nerve blocks and other pain-relieving injections. Potential side effects include soreness or bleeding at the injection site, itching, or rash. To avoid these side effects, it’s important to receive your injection from a qualified medical professional.
Despite this, nerve blocks are definitely safer than many other pain-relieving procedures, including medications like opiates and even over-the-counter drugs like NSAIDs. There’s no risk of dependency or overdose associated with nerve blocks. Plus, the anti-inflammatory medications included in these kinds of injections reduce the body’s inflammatory response, which can have a negative impact on the body when it’s active for an extended period of time.
Pain-relieving injections like nerve blocks, epidurals, and facet injections aren’t for every situation. However, they work well for many patients, and may be used individually or with other pain-relieving treatments to improve quality of life. When administered by a medical professional like the compassionate staff at Regional Medical Group, these injections are a safe and effective way of relieving acute pain after an accident.