Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Block Procedure Decreases Need For Painkillers After Injury or Surgery
Finally, some good news in the world of pain management that could reduce or eliminate the need for addictive painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine – an alternative procedure called ultrasound-guided nerve-blocking.
During the procedure, an anesthesiologist locates specific nerves using an ultrasound machine and a probe. Moreover, these nerves can affect pain level at an injury or surgical site. The doctor then inserts a tube and injects the nerve with a numbing agent. This procedure can be done several times as needed during a hospital admission.
As a result, pain in first 24-48 hours after an injury or surgery can be blocked, and the pain that develops afterward often isn’t as severe. Some patients may still be sent home with opioids to ease pain while recovering, but often in lower doses. Physicians say those patients who undergo nerve block end up using fewer painkillers overall.
According to Leonard V. Bunting, M.D.at Sonoguide.com, there are other benefits to using ultrasound guided nerve blocking, including “large volumes of local anesthetic can be avoided and there is also less need for general sedation.”
He also states that the length of emergency department stays are decreased, and post-procedure observation periods are “shortened…with reduced need for ED-nursing care, and high patient satisfaction.”
The procedure is indicated for:
- Acute pain management of the extremities (arms and legs)
- Anesthesia of the extremity for procedures
- Alternative to procedural sedation
- Alternative to painkillers in certain patient populations (e.g. head injured patient)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated two million opioid-dependent persons in the United States, and more than 15,000 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in 2015, the last year complete data is available.
These facts underscore the importance of alternative methods of pain management. Verdict? Ultrasound-guided nerve-blocking offers one tool that can prevent or minimize the use of opioids for acute pain.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology