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Nerve Root Block

This injection relieves pain in the neck and back caused by a pinched nerve (or nerves) in the cervical and lumbar spine.

A selective nerve root block is a diagnostic and therapeutic test performed to determine if a specific spinal nerve is the source of pain. Patients are candidates for this procedure if they have cervical (neck) or lumbar (low back) radiculopathy (irritation and inflammation of a nerve root radiating into the arm or leg).

Nerve Root Block Facts and Information

A nerve root block is an injection of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) and steroid injected under X-ray guidance into the area where the inflamed nerve exits the spinal column. It is usually ordered by your doctor for pain in the arm or leg that follows the path of a single nerve.

Selected Nerve Root Injections deliver medication directly into an inflamed nerve root that exits the spinal cord. Spinal nerve roots are positioned along the length of the spinal column. They are responsible for sending and receiving sensory (feeling) and motor (motion) signals throughout the body.

About the Procedure

The procedure is performed with the patient lying face down or face up to expose the specific area. The patient may be lightly sedated but remain awake during the procedure. A region of skin and tissue is numbed with a local anesthetic.

The physician uses live x-ray called a fluoroscope to guide the needle to the painful area. The needle is inserted into the neural canal surrounding the nerve sheath, which is the region through which spinal nerves travel. Contrast dye is injected into the space to make sure the needle is properly positioned near the irritated nerve.

Anesthetic and steroid solution are then injected around the irritated nerve root. The needle is removed and a small bandage is applied. Some patients may need only one injection, but two or three injections may be needed to provide significant pain relief.

Following the injection, the patient may experience relief or numbness from your symptoms for up to six hours. When the anesthetics wear off, symptoms may reappear. The steroids typically take two to three days to provide pain relief.

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