An intercostal nerve block is an injection of a steroid or other medication around the intercostal nerves that are located under each rib.


 

What is the purpose of an intercostal nerve block?
The steroid injected reduces the inflammation and/or swelling of tissue around the intercostal nerves, in between the ribs or in the chest wall. This may in turn reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the intercostal nerve and surrounding structures. Herpes zoster or shingles pain in the chest is commonly treated with intercostal blocks. Pain around a chest scar after a chest surgery may also respond well to intercostal blocks.

How long does the intercostal nerve block take?
The actual injection takes only a few minutes.

What is actually injected?
The injection consists of a local anesthetic and a steroid medication.

Will the intercostal nerve block hurt?
The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues. So, there is some pain involved. However, the skin and deeper tissues are numbed with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle during the performance of the block.