Nerve root block is an injection used for pain relief. A small amount of injectable anaesthetic agent with or without steroid is administered to the spinal nerve where it exits from foramen (bony opening between adjacent vertebrae). Root blocks can be given in cervical (neck ), dorsal (Mid back ) and lumbar (lower back ) region.
What is a nerve root block?
The nerve root is the part of the nerve that exits from the spinal cord and enters into the intervertebral foramen that travels to your arms and legs. There are 31 pairs of nerves exiting on both sides of the spine.
Part of body innervation by a nerve root depends on its location and area of distribution. For example, the cervical nerve root is likely to be involved with the arm and hands, whereas a lumbar nerve root is more likely to be involved with the leg. These nerve roots get inflamed due to pressure from nearby bone spurs or intervertebral disc
Inflammation of nerves causes pain in the back, neck/arms/hand or the legs and also pins-and-needles sensation, tingling and numbness. Root block is performed to relieve pain and in certain cases to identify the cause of pain
How is it done?
Nerve root block can be used as a diagnostic tool and for therapeutic purpose
It is a daycare procedure done under local anaesthesia
You will be lying face down for lumbar injection and face up for cervical injection. The area is cleaned with an antiseptic lotion. Using fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance, the appropriate trajectory for the needle is assessed. A thin needle is inserted to the required point near the nerve root, the next small amount of contrast dye injected to make sure that the medication will flow exactly where intended. A small amount of anaesthetic agent, steroid, or a combination of both is injected under fluoroscopic guidance.
What is the success rate of nerve root blocks?
The success rate in terms of pain relief is immediately after the procedure and will last for weeks to months. The efficacy is higher in patients when physiotherapy combined with root blocks.