-> Selective Nerve Block Injections
WHAT IS A NERVE ROOT BLOCK?
A nerve root block is an injection of local
anesthetic and sometimes a steroid under the directed vision of
an x-ray machine (C-Arm) into the areas where the nerve root
exits the spinal column. A nerve root block (injection) follows
the path of a single nerve to block pain emitted into an arm,
leg or back.
A nerve root block may be used by your Doctor to
diagnose (try to determine at which level in your spine the pain
is coming from) and provide therapeutic relief at this level
One of three things may occur:
The pain does not go away. Which means the pain
is not coming from the nerve at that level of the injection.
This provides the Doctor with information about which levels are
not causing the pain and help them locate the specific areas
which are causing your pain.
The pain goes away and stays away for a few
hours but the original pain comes back and doesn’t get better.
In this case the block was of diagnostic value. The pain
is probably coming form the nerve at the level of the injection,
but the steroid was not of benefit to you.
The pain goes away after the block, but comes
back later the same day. Then the pain subsides over the next
several days. In this case the block was of therapeutic value
and may have a long lasting effect on treating your pain.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF THE PROCEDURE?
There is always a risk of bleeding, infection,
nerve injury or an allergic reaction to any of the medications
used during the injection. These risks are present but the
probability of occurrence is fairly low.
Risks and short term side effects may occur and
should be reported to the physician. You should get some
numbness that follows the path of the nerve that the physician
blocked. You may also experience some weakness and increased pain for a few
days after the injection, including localized pain at the
If you are a diabetic, your blood sugar may be
elevated after the procedure for a short time. Continue to
monitor your blood sugar as usual. Report any loss of control with
the blood sugar levels to your physician immediately.
WILL THE INJECTION HURT?
The most uncomfortable part of the injection is
the stinging and burning of the medication used to numb the
skin. Every person’s response to the injection is individual.
Most patients will receive an intravenous injection of a
sedating medication to help them fall asleep during the injection process and may
feel a sharp burning sensation in the arm where their IV needle
has been placed. This sensation is temporary and will go away
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE ACTUALLY PERFORMED?
You will be positioned on the procedure table
so that you are as comfortable as possible. It is normal to feel anxious at
this time. Be assured the nurses will help you relax by
explaining what will happen next. Your blood pressure, heart
rate and breathing will be monitored at all times during the
procedure. A small plastic oxygen cannula will be placed on your nose and the tubing will fit around your
ears like glasses. This may smell like plastic and the oxygen
may tickle your nostrils a little. The physician will then tell
you that the medication will be injected into your IV and that
it will burn. Gradually you will fall asleep. After you are
comfortably asleep the physician will cleanse your injection
site with an antiseptic. The x-ray machine will then be
positioned over the location to be injected and the physician
will take an x-ray of your body at the injection level. The
procedure only takes a few minutes. At the end of the
injection(s) you will gradually wake up and be asked to move
yourself on to a stretcher to be taken back to a recovery room. Your family member or friend will be
asked to join you when the nurse feels you are awake. You will
be offered something to drink. It will be important for you to
drink some fluids and go to the bathroom before you are
discharged from the facility.
WHAT RESTRICTIONS WILL I HAVE ON THE DAY OF THE
You should not drive for the remainder of the
day after your procedure. A responsible adult should accompany
your to your home. This person should be available to you during
the remainder of the day should you need assistance. The
procedure will be cancelled if you do not have a responsible
adult with you. This is the facility policy and it was written
for your safety.