Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My doctor has suggested I try a nerve block injection for my chronic back pain. I've heard that acupuncture might be a good idea. Which one works better?

There are no studies comparing the results of lumbar nerve block to acupuncture. Both have been shown to help patients with low back pain. Research is still needed to identify which patients would do best with each type of treatment. Predictive factors might include age, gender, diagnosis, education level, or work status.

With acupuncture, tiny needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points. Nothing is injected into or under the skin. With a nerve block, a local anesthetic similar to novacaine used by your dentist is injected into the lumbar spine. This drug is mixed with a steroid to reduce inflammation and swelling around the nerve root.

The idea of a nerve block is to stop the pain messages from the nerve to the spinal cord and up to the brain. Some experts have suggested that just putting needles into the area is all that's really needed. There's some evidenc to suggest this may be true but it hasn't been proved yet for all types of patient problems.

Talk with your doctor about your situation. You may want to try acupuncture first since it is less invasive than having a nerve block. If you don't get the results you want, then a lumbar nerve block is still an option.


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