A Guide To Nerve Root Blocks
A Guide To Nerve Root Blocks
The term ‘nerve root block’ is one that many patients regard with some considerable trepidation, simply because it sounds very complex and serious. In fact this procedure is very straightforward, is not permanent and will enable patients to have a reduction in pain that can be quite significant.
What Is A Nerve Root Block?
The usual form of a nerve root block is simply an injection that combines local anaesthetic with a steroid. The injection is administered to a nerve or nerves that are experiencing pain. The local anaesthetic used will effectively reduce the pain and the steroid is used to ensure that any inflammation in or around the nerve(s) is reduced. The steroid tends to provide long term pain relief through the reduction of inflammation, especially between the nerve ending and the joint involved.
Is The Procedure Safe?
Due to the fact that this is an injection, it is minimally invasive and as such is exceptionally safe. It will generally take less than half an hour and patients are able to go home on the day that the procedure is carried out. Sometimes the pain may not be instantly reduced and it can take a few days for patients to feel the benefits.
When Is A Nerve Root Block Used?
A nerve root block is usually used when a patient is experiencing significant levels of pain in his or her back and it is not responding to other treatments such as physiotherapy and medication.
Why Is A Nerve Root Block Not The First treatment Offered?
Patients can feel apprehensive about nerve root blocks because they feel that if the procedure is safe, then it would be offered as the initial form of treatment. However, in the majority of back pain cases, treatment using physiotherapy, exercises and some medication are sufficient, hence there is no need to suggest using a nerve root block.
It is only in cases where the initial treatment has not been successful that the block injection will be used. But it is still a very safe and effective treatment and the nerves do not suffer any lasting damage from being blocked and thus unable to signal to the brain that they are feeling pain.
How Can It Be Beneficial If It Is Not Permanent?
The beauty of a nerve root block is that it reduces pain and enables patients to resume life again. It also provides patients with the opportunity to be able to undertake physiotherapy and perform gentle exercises at home, to ensure that the underlying condition that is causing the nerves to feel pain can be effectively treated.
Many patients with back pain are keen to undertake physiotherapy as a means to treat their condition, but at times they can find it very painful to perform any kind of exercise, which can reduce the efficacy of any physiotherapy. Alleviating the pain provides the opportunity for physiotherapy/exercises to resume and thus the condition can be cured.
A Safe And Gentle Procedure
A nerve root block is far gentler and less invasive than surgery and should not be regarded as anything other than having an injection, with X-Ray guidance and it is certainly not something that patients should fear; in fact it should be welcomed as a very quick and highly efficient means of reducing pain.