Nerve Root Block

What is a nerve root block?

A nerve root block is an injection of local anesthetic (and occasionally steroid) into the area where the nerve exits the spinal column. A nerve root block may have the purpose of determining the source of pain or relieving pain.

How is the procedure performed?

1.       Your physician will sterilize the area of the back overlying the affected nerve root.
2.       You will undergo fluoroscopic (“x-ray”) imaging that allows your physician to inject the nerve sheath
3.       A local anesthetic will be given to numb the skin over the injection site.
4.       Your physician will then inject the anesthetic and the steroid.

What should I expect after the procedure?

Some may experience numbness and pain relief immediately after the injection due to the local anesthetic but it may also take up to 5-7 days or longer to experience relief from steroids. When the local anesthetic wears off, your symptoms may return.  If you don’t feel the difference in your pain symptoms after a week, your physician may want to check for other possible sources of your pain.

Possible side effects and risks

Possible but rare (occur in only about 5% of patients) side effects include low-grade fevers, insomnia, headaches, water retention, increased appetite, facial flushing, increased heart rate, and abdominal cramping or bloating. Risks include bleeding, infection, nerve injury, or allergic reaction to the medications used.