View Full Version : Intercostal Nerve Blocks

03-11-2011, 02:34 PM
I have described the pain I have had in my upper abdomen under a previous posting. On Feb. 16, I had facet joint shots at T9/T10, but I didn't get any relief. I have had several GI tests and all are negative.

After discussion with Dr. Rand, the source is nerve pain. It is coming from the thoracic area at the top of my surgery (T9, T10). I have felt it approximately since the time of the surgery. Neither of the nerve pain medicines have helped (Neurontin or Lyrica). A CT scan of my spine showed that there is a slight compression of T10.

The description of the pain caused by nerves at T9/T10 coming around from the back to the abdomen area fits the location of my pain. These blocks are supposed to solve that problem.

Has anyone had one of these blocks? Did it work? Is it given in the back or the front where the pain is?

I understand that the doctor uses an anesthetic to relieve the pain. It is for diagnostic as well as therapeutic. If it works, the dr may go in and use steroids.


03-18-2011, 02:25 PM
On Monday, March 14, I had four intercostal nerve blocks two at each of T8 and T9. The pain management doctor, whose background is anesthesia and pain management, determined that it was from these two levels that the pain probably is coming from. This is above the fusion instrumentation.

To answer my own questions, the shots were given in the back like any other nerve blocks. The content of the shots is anesthetic and steroid. It didn't hurt any more than any of the other shots I have gotten for facet joints, nerve blocks, or epidurals.

Right after I got off the table, I had no pain but, after about 20 minutes, the pain was back. Needless to say, I was excited during those 20 minutes.

I was told that it takes 5-7 days for the shots to take effect. I am at day 4 and nothing has changed.

If the shots don't work, I can't go back for any more shots for four weeks.

Here's hoping!!

Jacque's Mom
03-18-2011, 02:37 PM
You know I'm still keeping my fingers crossed. I'll be in touch. Lynn

03-18-2011, 07:23 PM
I sure hope these shots kick in for you.

I don't know about your experience with your epidural steroid injections (ESI), but mine did sometimes take up to the 2 weeks they said it could take for the full effect. I hope you still are just waiting for that. The numbing agent in the injections do kill the pain directly after the procedure. If only that would last! Until I had the real time xray during the procedure by a pain management guy, also an anesthesiologist, the shots varied considerably. After seeing him, they worked better and lasted longer.

I sure hope you get some relief!! I know it completely made the difference between me working or not working for several years until my recent surgery. Once they figured it out, it really took the edge off the nerve pain. Good Luck!

03-19-2011, 06:39 PM
Thanks for your support.

Today is day 5 and I have had no relief. My experience with all steroid shots: facet joint, epidural, or nerve blocks has been that they work quickly in a day or two or they don't. That's my experience. I have been told it could take up to 2 weeks.

Right after the shots, I had about 15 minutes of relief from the anesthetic but then I had the pain again. So, the anesthetic didn't work very much either.

I was on an x-ray table so the dr could see precisely where to place the shots.

I continue to have hope that the steroid will kick in but it is discouraging. The thing is that my back surgery went so well and my recuperation has been good. This is the last piece of the puzzle.

The diagnosis is thoracic radiculopathy, intercostal neuralgia post posterior instrumented spinal fusion. It is nerve root irritation just like I had in my lower back before the surgery only now it is in my thoracic region.

I'll keep you posted.

03-19-2011, 07:26 PM
was that a fluroscope the doctor used to see where to put the shots..?
my pain management doc uses one to see where injections are to be placed..
i watch it, too, when i can lift my head up off the table to take a look...
but then i decide i don't really want to see what he is doing...
he puts a needle in first...then quickly adds the numbing medication...
he waits for it to take effect (often i don't notice a difference)...then he adds the steroid

none of my shots took more than 5 days to kick in...most worked within the 2 days you mentioned....
my very first epidural (out of 4) took effect slowly...but made little difference to my pain
one of my facet blocks seemed to take effect slowly as well
those were the only two times it took more than 2 days to feel the results...
i never got more than 3 weeks or so of pain relief....

sad to say i had many shots that gave no relief at all...i hope that is not the case for you!
i am really sorry that you are in pain..especially after going thru surgery!


03-20-2011, 09:41 AM
Yes, it was a fluoroscope that the doctor used. Sometimes the shots work and sometimes not. So far, NOT for this round. I'll call the pain mgt doctor tomorrow and see if I can speak with her. I know I can't have any shots for 3 more weeks but a verbal plan might help me feel better psychologically.

In the meanwhile, I think I am going to try acupuncture. I had gone for one session to meet with the acupuncturist and have a 1/2 hour session. Ofcourse, that wasn't enough to help. Some people say acupuncture helps over time. It can interrupt the nerve impulses. That's what this seems to be.

Glad some of the shots worked for you. In the past, I have been in acute pain and had them work for me. It has to be the right type of shot put in the right place. Even with the fluoroscope, it is an "art" to get it right.


03-20-2011, 01:47 PM
my doctors have all told me that nerve related pain responds best to injections, and that "structural" type pain does not....
one doctor told me he thought that was why epidural injections don't help me much...
the most pain relief i ever had was from sacroiliac joint injections...i got 3 weeks of total pain relief!
i want to try them again...i am just afraid they wont work as well the second time...i could not believe how good i felt for those three weeks!

i think your situation is a little different, since you had intercostal injections...
i just hope they can find something that does help you and relieves your pain!