A nerve root block is an injection into a spinal nerve. The nerve is approached at the place where it exits the vertebrae. Our doctors use imaging techniques such as ultrasound and live X-ray in order to locate the nerve during the procedure. To do the live X-ray, our doctors include a fluorescent additive in the injection. The fluorescent material glows during the X-ray so that our doctors can see exactly where the medication is going. This allows for small adjustments in order to get the medication in just the right location of the nerve.
The nerve root block medications consist of a numbing agent and a steroid agent. The numbing medication is usually lidocaine, which is also what dentists use to numb your gums before a dental procedure. The steroid agent provides an anti-inflammatory effect and helps to calm the nerve and reduce swelling in nearby tissues.
When a Nerve Root Block is Needed
Our doctors may recommend that you have a nerve root block as a diagnostic procedure or for the treatment of pain. The nerve root block procedure can be done in order to find the source of your pain. Since the procedure's effects are immediate, you will be able to tell the doctor when your pain goes away. That explains to the doctor which nerve is affected. The injection can also be used for pain management. The injections can be repeated as needed for relief.
Benefits of the Nerve Root Block Procedure
A nerve root block is a minimally invasive procedure. This means that there is no incision and no wraps or dressings to change. A nerve root block procedure is performed by experienced anesthesiologists and radiologists. As soon as the correct nerve is found through the imaging system and the medication is injected, you will feel an immediate sensation of pain relief. You will not have to wait hours or even days for the medication to get to work. With a nerve root block procedure, you can go home immediately after the procedure is performed. You will not need to take time off of work, and there is no recovery period.
What to Expect After a Nerve Root Block
After you have a nerve root block, you can expect to have a relief of your pain symptoms. The period of pain relief may last for one or two weeks, or it may be permanent. Our doctors will monitor your progress and follow up with you to check on your level of pain relief. As your pain fades, you may find that it is easier for you to do the routine activities of daily living, such as cleaning your home or going grocery shopping. You may also find that you can get back to some of your favorite activities, such as hiking or dancing.