Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbosacral Nerve Root Block

What is a nerve root and why is a selective nerve root block helpful?

Nerve roots exit your spinal cord and form nerves that travel into your arms or legs. These nerves allow you to move your arms, chest wall, and legs. Inflammation of these nerve roots may cause pain in your arms or legs. These nerve roots may become inflamed and painful due to irritation, for example, from a damaged disc or a bony spur.

A selective nerve root block provides important information to your physician and is not a primary treatment. It serves to prove which nerve is causing your pain by placing temporary numbing medicine over the nerve root of concern. If you main pain complaint improves after the injection then that nerve is most likely causing your pain. If you pain remains unchanged, that nerve is probably not the cause of your pain.

By confirming or denying your exact source of pain, it provides information allowing for proper treatment, which may include additional nerve blocks and/or surgery at a specific level.

What will happen to me during the procedure?

An IV will be started so that relaxation medication can be given. You will be placed on the x-ray table and positioned in such a way that your doctor can best visualize the bony openings in your spine where the nerve roots exit the spine using x-ray guidance. The skin will be scrubbed using two types of sterile (soap) scrub. Next, the physician will numb a small area of skin with numbing medicine. This medicine stings for several seconds. After numbing medicine has been given time to be effective, your doctor will direct a very small needle using x-ray guidance near the specific nerve being tested. A small amount of contrast (dye) is then injected to insure proper needle position. This may increase your usual pain for about 30 seconds. Then, a small mixture of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory (cortisone/steroid) will be injected.

What will happen after the procedure?

Immediately after the procedure, you will move around and try to imitate something that would normally bring about your usual pain. Your will then report the percentage of pain relief.

You will NOT be able to drive the day of your procedure. On occasion, you arm, chest wall or leg may feel weak or numb for a few hours. If this happens, it usually does not last more than a few hours.

General Pre/Post Instructions

You should not have anything to eat or drink at least 6 hours prior to your procedure. Please take your routine medications (i.e. high blood pressure and diabetic mediations). If you are prescribed an anti-inflammatory, you need to stop taking this medication 5 days prior to the date of the procedure. These medicines can be restarted after the procedure if they are needed. If you are on Coumadin, Heparin or any other blood thinners or Glucophage (a diabetic medicine) you must notify this office so the timing of stopping these medications can be explained. Your procedure will be done here in the surgical suite location at our office. You will be able to return to your normal activities the day after the procedure, including returning to work. YOU MUST BRING A DRIVER TO HAVE THE PROCEDURE DONE.

If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment time please give us at least 24 hours notice