Nerve Root Block Procedure
Nerve Root Block Procedure
The term ‘nerve root block’ is one that many people find quite daunting and it sounds a very dramatic procedure. However, in reality no one need feel intimidated or anxious about having a nerve root block, it is a very safe, very routine procedure to help manage/diagnose chronic pain conditions which are associated with nerve roots.
The injection itself is comprised of a local anaesthetic that is injected along with a steroid.
Blocking The Nerve
When you receive a nerve root block, the injection will be administered (sometimes when a patient is sedated, sometimes not) into a nerve that seems to be causing the pain. Because there is a local anaesthetic in the injection, then the nerve will immediately be numbed. This then acts as a confirmation that the pain is actually being caused by a specific nerve and it will provide the patient with pain relief.
The steroid is also used to try and reduce inflammation that often occurs in the area near the nerve root and the discs in your back. Reducing this inflammation can actually provide relatively long term relief from pain, because the pain itself can be caused simply by this inflammation.
Is Pain Relief Immediate?
Pain relief can be more or less immediate, with some patients reporting that pain relief has been significant within 30 minutes or less, of the injection being carried out.
Some patients may not experience significant levels of pain relief. If the pain is not substantially reduced by the procedure, then it is likely that the nerve that has been ‘blocked’ is not the one that is actually causing the pain.
It can be exceptionally difficult, given just how many nerves there are in the body and the spinal area in particular, to pinpoint the exact nerve that is causing the problem.
Consequently, the procedure has not ‘failed’ if the pain is still experienced, it will simply eliminate a specific nerve root as being the origins of the pain.
Usually a nerve root block is only carried out when other methods of treatment have tried and failed and any nerve root that is blocked, will have been the most likely originator of pain. The procedure is not undertaken on each particular nerve.
Is the Pain Relief Permanent?
It is actually not usual for the pain relief to be permanent, although this can happen. Patients often find that after some time the pain may return, in which case, after a period of several months, the procedure may be undertaken again. There is no one single response to this procedure, it depends on various factors including the specific nerve or nerves and any damage that they have experienced.
Is The Procedure Safe?
The procedure is extremely safe. Some people may feel slightly anxious about it, worried that they may move when the injection is being administered etc. Where patients do feel very anxious or worried a sedative may be prescribed so that the patient feels relaxed.
The procedure takes usually less than 30 minutes and patients will usually be able to return home the same day, after a period of rest/monitoring.
So it is not in fact something to be concerned about (despite its name) it is something that can provide a great level of pain relief for patients and help with a diagnosis, so it is extremely useful!