WHAT IS A NERVE ROOT BLOCK?
A Nerve Root Block is an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory injection targeted toward a specific nerve or group of nerves to treat pain. The injection will inhibit the pain signal coming from a specific location in the body or will decrease inflammation in that area. The medication delivered by the injection will be placed as close to the nerve causing the pain as possible. It will then “shut down” the pain receptors within the nerve(s) causing the problem.
REASON FOR THE PROCEDURE
People who suffer from either acute or chronic pain may need a Nerve Root Block injection to achieve temporary pain relief. Often, the pain originates from the spine, but other areas commonly affected include the neck, buttocks, legs and arms. Delivering a Nerve Root Block injection allows a damaged nerve time to heal itself from a state of constant irritation. Additionally, it can provide diagnostic information to your doctor. By performing a Nerve Root Block and then monitoring how you respond to the injection, your doctor can often determine the cause or source of the pain.
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. At Excel Imaging, your Esse Health Radiologist will numb the injection area then position you in a CT Scanner. CT uses low dose X-rays from multiple angles creating images to guide the placement of the needle. Once in position, contrast material will be released to confirm the route the medication will take once it is injected. Next, the medication (typically a mix of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory agents) will be administered. The effects of the injection are usually immediate. However, Nerve Root Blocks are only a temporary fix. They typically last for one or two weeks and then wear off as they are absorbed by the body. Some patients undergo several rounds of Nerve Root Blocks before they feel a more permanent sense of relief. Others may not receive any permanent pain relief from this type of injection and may require different treatment methods to manage the pain or inflammation.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS, RISKS, AND COMPLICATIONS
Risks of the procedure include infection at the injection site, bleeding, accidental delivery of the medication into the bloodstream, unexpected spread of the medication to other nerves and inadvertently injecting the wrong nerve when the nerves are very close together.