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If you are scheduled for knee surgery that will utilize a knee nerve block or a knee block as a non-surgical intervention, you may be wondering how long it will last. This is a common question that many people have about this type of procedure.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about how long a knee nerve block lasts. We will also provide some tips on how to prepare for your procedure.

What is a Knee Nerve Block?

A knee nerve block injection is an outpatient procedure that uses a numbing agent or anesthetic medication to target the genicular nerves located around the knee joint. This type of injection can provide pain relief for up to several months for people suffering from any type of chronic knee pain.

It also targets the sciatic nerve at the level of the knee. This nerve is responsible for sensation and muscle movement in the leg, and a knee nerve block can be used to treat pain in the leg caused by conditions such as sciatica, herniated discs, or hip fractures. 

A knee nerve block can also be used for outpatient surgeries like ACL reconstruction or total knee replacement.

Genicular Nerve Block vs. Femoral Nerve Block

Femoral nerve blocks and genicular nerve blocks are both types of peripheral nerve blocks. A femoral nerve block involves the injection of local anesthetic into the femoral nerve, which is located in the thigh. As discussed, a genicular nerve block is an injection of a local anesthetic into a specific nerve that innervates the knee joint. 

Femoral nerve blocks provide general anesthesia to the entire lower leg, including the foot and toes. Genicular nerve blocks only provide anesthesia to the knee joint and surrounding area.

Femoral nerve blocks are typically used for surgeries on the hip, thigh, knee, or lower leg.

The femoral nerve block is considered a safer option because it has a lower risk of complications than another peripheral nerve block. It’s also a more reliable method of providing anesthesia because it targets the peripheral nerves.

Radiofrequency Ablation vs. Genicular Nerve Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat pain. The procedure involves using an anesthetic medication to numb the area to be treated. A needle is then inserted into the area, and radiofrequency waves are used to heat the tissue. This destroys the nerve fibers that send pain signals to the brain.

Radiofrequency ablation is effective for treating pain in the shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. It can also be used to treat back pain and neck pain.

Genicular nerve ablation is a similar procedure that is used to treat pain in the knee. The genicular nerves are a network of nerves that run from the hip to the knee. By destroying these nerves, this ablation procedure can help relieve pain in the knee.

Both radiofrequency ablation and genicular nerve ablation are effective treatments for pain. However, radiofrequency ablation is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time than genicular nerve ablation.

Good Candidates for Knee Nerve Block

A knee nerve block is a good option for those who experience the following:

  • Chronic Knee Pain. This type of pain can be debilitating and make it difficult to perform everyday activities. It’s mostly caused by damage to the nerves in the knee, which can occur due to arthritis, injury, or surgery.
  • Sciatica. This is a condition that can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down to the legs, becomes compressed or irritated. This can happen due to a variety of factors, including a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or an injury
  • Knee Osteoarthritis. The condition is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. Over time, this cartilage breaks down, exposing the bone beneath. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and stiffness. 
  • Total Knee Replacement Surgery. The block works by numbing the nerves that supply the knee joint, which can help to relieve pain during and after knee surgery. In addition, the block can help to reduce swelling and inflammation around the knee joint.

Knee nerve blocking is typically well tolerated and has few side effects. As a result, it’s an excellent treatment option for good candidates who suffer from chronic pain.

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Risks of Knee Nerve Block

Although knee nerve blocks are generally safe, there are some risks associated with the procedure such as:

  • temporary numbness or tingling in the leg. This typically lasts for a few hours and resolves on its own.
  • bruising,
  • bleeding,
  • infection,
  • nerve injury
  • and allergic reactions 

If you are considering a knee nerve block, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits with your pain management specialist. You should also let them know if you have an existing medical condition that could affect your ability to tolerate the procedure. And while knee nerve blocks are typically done using local anesthesia, you may be given general anesthesia if necessary.

How Long Does a Knee Nerve Block Last After Surgery

A nerve block is an injection of pain medication directly into or near a nerve. With X-ray guidance, nerve blocks can provide both immediate and long-term pain relief.

But how long do nerve blocks last? The answer depends on the type of nerve block and the medication used. Some nerve blocks can provide pain relief to the injection site for a few hours, while others may last for several months or even years. Generally, 12–24 hours is the average time a femoral knee nerve block will last after surgery.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how long your nerve block will last in your specific situation is to speak with your doctor.

Preparing for a Knee Nerve Block Procedure

There are a few things that you can do to prepare for a knee nerve block procedure. First, it’s important to discuss your medical history with your doctor. Be sure to mention any allergies or other conditions that could potentially interfere with the knee nerve block.

Second, you should also avoid eating before the procedure and wear loose-fitting clothing. This clothing choice will help to ensure that you’re comfortable during the procedure.

After the knee nerve block has been administered, you may feel some numbness and tingling in your leg. This is normal and should resolve within a few hours.

You will also be given pain medications to help manage any discomfort after the procedure. With proper preparation and care, a knee nerve block can be an effective way to reduce pain, either after knee surgery or as a non-surgical option.

Other Treatment Options

In addition to nerve blocking, there are a variety of other treatment options that can be effective in managing pain.

And one of the best alternatives is to set up an appointment with a physical therapist. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles and improve your range of motion.

You can also explore different types of opioid medications. These drugs work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This reduces the perception of pain and can help people feel more comfortable. It is safe to note that these should be used sparingly, as they are considered highly addictive.

In other cases, a medical procedure may be necessary to correct the underlying cause of the pain.

Finally, diet and exercise play an important role in pain management. By maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding inflammatory foods, you can help reduce the amount of pain you experience. By incorporating these various treatment options, you can effectively manage your pain and improve your quality of life.

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Consult Your Doctor

Nerve pain or chronic pain generally can be frustrating, and it can be hard to know how to deal with it. You might feel like you’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to work. You might be tempted to just suffer through the pain, but that’s not always the best option. If nerve pain is interfering with your daily activities, consult with your doctor.

It’s important to trust the experts when it comes to nerve pain. Nerve pain can be difficult to treat, but with the help of a doctor, you’ll be able to find the right treatment for you. Give it time, and you’ll heal.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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