Intercostal Nerve Block

An intercostal nerve block is an interventional pain management technique used to relieve pain in the chest area. Pain may be caused by a herpes zoster infection or a surgical incision. Intercostal nerves are located under each rib. When they get irritated or inflamed, they can cause pain.

What to expect

During an intercostal block, a local anesthetic and a steroid is injected under the rib to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. This technique can also be used to help diagnose the source of pain. The doctor performs the procedure by inserting a thin needle below the ribs guided by the fluoroscopy machine (a type of x-ray) or ultrasound. Once the doctor is sure that the needle is correctly placed, the medicine will be injected.

After the procedure

Once the procedure is completed, you will be monitored for up to 30 minutes. When you are ready to leave, our staff will give you discharge instructions. The duration of pain relief varies from person to person.

Treatment effectiveness

The patient may not notice the full effect of the nerve block until a few days after the procedure. Pain relief may last a month or more, at which point the patient may arrange for a repeat injection. Some patients may require two injections in quick succession to elicit an optimal effect.