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Nerve Root Block

A nerve root block is an injection into the sheath surrounding a spinal nerve root. This injection is intended to temporarily decrease your pain and precisely identify the pain source. The exam uses therapeutic steroid and local anesthetic (numbing medication) to decrease pain and inflammation. In order for this procedure to be effective, you must have symptoms present at the time of the procedure. If you are not experiencing symptoms prior to your procedure, please cancel your appointment and reschedule the exam once your symptoms have returned.


What to Expect

  • We will contact you prior to your appointment to review current medications, your medical history, and potential risks. We will also answer any questions you have about the procedure.
  • You must have symptoms present for this procedure to be effective. If you are not experiencing symptoms prior to your procedure, please cancel your appointment and reschedule the exam once your symptoms have returned.
  • Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
  • Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.
  • On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.
  • Please arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
  • Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.
  • When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
  • You will remain awake during the procedure, and may experience some slight pressure or discomfort during the injection.
  • You will lie on an X-ray table and the skin in the targeted area will be cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic.
  • Using a thin needle and X-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy), a radiologist will inject contrast (X-ray dye) into or adjacent to the nerve sheath thought to be causing your pain. Contrast is designed to ensure correct placement of the needle for the procedure.
  • The radiologist will be interested in how this discomfort compares to your usual pain symptoms.
  • X-rays will be taken, and a combination of an anti-inflammatory (steroid) and anesthetic (numbing) medications will be injected for pain relief.
  • You may be asked to wait after your procedure for observation.
  • When your procedure is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
  • You may experience numbness and/or relief from your symptoms after the injection.
  • The beneficial effects of the steroids usually require two to three days to take hold, but may take as long as five to seven days. Your usual symptoms may then return and possibly be worse than usual for a day or two. Every patient is different and your results may vary.
  • Pain relief from the procedure varies depending on the specific symptoms.
  • If there is no change in your symptoms after a week, your provider may want to investigate other possible sources for your pain.
  • If the injection blocked your pain effectively, but only for a short time, your provider may request additional injections or consider a procedure that offers more permanent relief.
  • Our radiologist will review the images and provide your doctor with a detailed report about your procedure. This report, along with any other relevant information or tests, will assist your doctor in determining the best treatment plan for you.

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