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Pain Management Procedures

Selective Nerve Root Blocks

Nerve roots are located at the left and right sides of each vertebra where the nerves exit the spinal canal. These nerves serve as the pathway between the spinal cord and the body’s muscles. They carry information about various sensations, including pain. In a selective nerve root block, the nerve is injected at the level where the nerve exits the vertebral foramen.

This procedure can be used both to treat pain and to diagnose its source. When the nerve is blocked, one of three results occurs:

  1. The pain is alleviated,
  2. The pain is not alleviated, or
  3. The pain is temporarily alleviated, but returns later in the day.

If the pain went away, the selective nerve root block was successful.  If the pain is not alleviated, this means that the pain is not coming from the nerve that was injected. If the pain goes away after the injection but returns later in the day, the pain is likely coming from that nerve; however, the steroid did not help you.

This procedure is done in the office using an x-ray machine (fluoroscope) that is connected to a TV monitor and x-rays may be taken at this time. Fluoroscopic guidance is used by the Doctor to ensure proper needle placement. Prior to the procedure, the injection site is thoroughly cleansed with sterile solution. A local anesthetic is administered. While the local anesthetic takes effect, the Doctor will inject a radio-opaque dye. This dye helps provide a contrast and determine the position of the needle. Once that is completed, the Doctor will inject a corticosteroid into the nerve root.

How does it Work?
The steroid is used to reduce the inflammation and/or swelling of the nerves in the epidural space, to therefore reduce pain, tingling, and numbness and other symptoms caused by nerve inflammation, irritation, or swelling. Pain relief occurs when the corticosteroid is administered in the correct level.

After the Procedure
You will not be able to drive for the remainder of the day following a selective nerve root block. It is best to have an adult drive you home and accompany you to your home. This person should also be available to you should you require assistance at any time during the day after your procedure.

For a better understanding of interventional pain treatment services, contact the healthcare professionals at Minimally Invasive Pain Institute.  They can help customize a treatment for you and your acute or chronic pain condition. To find out if you are a good candidate, or for more information on this and other pain treatment services, read on or contact our pain management center.  Together, we’ll help you find the relief you need for the quality of life you deserve.