We all experience pain for a reason. The sensation brings deeper, systemic issues to our attention – allowing us to seek medical attention, or change your situation to avoid the painful occurrence. Nevertheless, prolonged pain can be a nuisance when you’re diagnosed and doing everything you can to heal an issue.
Chronic abdominal pain, caused by a variety of ailments, including pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, other abdominal cancers, or inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), can be relieved with the help of a celiac plexus block.
What is a Celiac Plexus Block?
Within the abdomen, each of us has a bundle of nerves called the celiac plexus. To anesthetize pain from the area, a celiac plexus block can be used. This is an injection of pain reliever into the site, and has been proven to provide excellent results in most cases.
The procedure is relatively non-invasive, but typically, you’ll receive IV sedation to make the process as comfortable as possible. A combination of local anesthetic and corticosteroids targets the nerves, which blocks pain coming from the beleaguered area.
Is it Permanent?
While the procedure is not permanent, it does provide promising results. Each patient is different, but some can experience a reduction in pain, if not full cessation, for up to four months. This allows the patient to reduce the number of opioids used to treat the pain, and some may not feel the need to use them at all.
Are there Side Effects?
Like all medical treatments, there are slight risks involved. However, this is a case where the benefits far outweigh the risks. Some patients experience bruising, swelling, and some expected bleeding from the injection site. These are emblematic side effects of many types of injections. To reduce the risk of infection at the injection site, it’s important to keep the area clean and protected. Due to the location of the celiac plexus, and the path of injection, there is a slight risk of nerve or blood vessel damage, and a smaller risk of puncturing a lung. Top-of-the-line technology, including a fluoroscope, a type of x-ray machine, reduces these risks by providing doctors with real-time views into the body so injections can be carefully guided.
It’s important to remember that a celiac plexus block isn’t meant to cure your pain, or the illness that causes it. Nevertheless, if you are living with an illness that causes pain to your abdominal organs, the celiac plexus block can improve your quality of life by disrupting the message sent between your celiac plexus nerve bundle and your brain, so you don’t perceive it.
As medicine trends away from opiate-involved pain treatment, celiac plexus blocks should be turned to in order to provide patients with safe, extended pain relief options. Talk to your doctor to see if you are a candidate for a celiac plexus block. If you are, it could be the answer to your pain, and it could provide you much longer-term relief than the medications you’ve already tried.