Nerve Block Injections for AS
Last updated: January 2023
I have been getting biologic infusions every month for almost 2 years. While it reduces inflammation and slows down fusion, it doesn't help much with pain and fatigue. I still struggle a lot to stand or walk for over 5 minutes. So I talked to my pain management doctor about any treatment that offers me more immediate relief. Or actually reduces the pain and fatigue. He suggested I begin nerve block injections. Which is a local anesthetic that numbs the area around the nerves.
So in December 2021, I started getting nerve block injections for my AS
There are a couple of different kinds of approved nerve block injections. The one I get is called Marcaine, I receive Marcaine injections in my lower spine and hips. For the first month, I would get them every week. Since then I have gradually been getting them less frequently. Currently, I get them every 3 weeks but will be up to 4 weeks after my next appointment. The doctor told me that eventually, I can get them every couple of months.
I was very nervous to try nerve blocks. I'd heard of people getting Cortisone shots or steroid shots, but I'd never heard of anyone trying Marcaine injections for AS. However, it has been one of the most helpful things I've tried for AS thus far.
The injections hurt while I'm getting them. And the injection sites are usually sore for a day or two. The feeling is similar to getting a flu shot or vaccine in your arm, but just a bit more intense. The doctor injects the nerve blocks on 6-8 points of my lower spine, 3-4 on each side, and one in each hip. In my experience, the hip injections hurt more than the lower spine.
Almost immediate relief
While the pain of getting the injections feels very intense, it is only for a split second. Then I immediately feel relief. I never felt this kind of relief before. The area starts feeling numb and my pain becomes a faint background buzz. I am still aware of it and I still feel discomfort, but it is not blaring through my body at full volume.
After getting the injections, I usually feel ready to run a marathon or go on a 6-hour hike. But I know it is important to pace myself, especially when I'm feeling better so I don't trigger a flare-up. I find that I am usually most productive and functional shortly after getting the injections.
As I keep getting the injections, they last for longer
So, I don't have to get them as often. I was worried that like the infusions, the relief would completely wear off before my next appointment. While it did wear off a bit, it was nowhere near as drastic as with the infusions. The pain very slowly comes back, subtly increasing its volume. By the time it is loud enough to be disruptive and annoying, I am due for my next set of injections.
Nerve block injections are very helpful and effective in making me more functional. I am often able to stand and walk for longer after I get my injections.
Have you ever tried nerve block injections?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?