Nerve Root Blocks
What is a Spinal Nerve Block?
A spinal nerve block is the injection of an anaesthetic and steroid medication around the spinal nerve root to diagnose or treat pain.
Indications for Spinal Nerve Blocks
Spinal nerve blocks are indicated to relieve pain, weakness, numbness and tingling sensations in your neck, back, and extremities due to nerve injuries such as a pinched nerve or narrowing of the spinal column (stenosis).
Preparation for a Spinal Nerve Block
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. You may take your medications with water. You may have to temporarily discontinue certain medications such as blood thinners or diabetic medication. The procedure is not performed if you have an ongoing infection or elevated blood pressure.
Procedure for a Spinal Nerve Block
- A spinal nerve block is an outpatient procedure. You will lie on your stomach on an X-ray table and your doctor will administer a sedative intravenously to help you relax during the procedure.
- Your vitals are constantly monitored. Your doctor locates the target site with the help of X-ray imaging.
- A contrast dye is used to ensure that the needle is accurately placed and the medication is then delivered to the target site.
- If the nerve block is performed as a diagnostic procedure, you will be instructed to note any changes in pain at different intervals.
- This helps your doctor evaluate which nerve is causing pain. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
What will I Experience After a Spinal Nerve Block?
You may have pain relief immediately after the injection, but pain may return after a few hours as the anaesthesia wears off. The effects of the treatment will be usually noticed 2 or 3 days after the treatment. If you respond well to the first injection, you may be advised to have another injection after a period of time for better relief.
Risks and Complications Associated with Spinal Nerve Blocks
As with any procedure, a spinal nerve block may be associated with certain risks and complications such as pain (temporary), bruising, infection at the site of the injection and nerve damage.