What Is a Nerve Root Block?
A Nerve Root Block refers to an injection of local anesthetic along the nerve root. There are many “holes” (or “foramina”) along the spine through which nerve roots can emerge. The nerve root can be pinched if the foramina are not completely closed by bulging discs, bone spurs, or misalignment. The nerve root can then radiate or shoot pain. A small needle is inserted into the foramen along the nerve root to perform a nerve root blocking procedure.
Why Is It Done
The nerves of the foramina can become irritated by a bulging disc, narrowed “nerve channel” or bone spur. This can lead to pain, numbness, or tingling. Local anesthetics can help reduce pain and provide diagnostic information to your physician.
How Long Does It Take?
It takes just a few minutes to inject the medication with a nerve root block. The actual injection takes only a few minutes to take effect. After the procedure is complete, the nurse will observe you.
Will It Hurt?
Our procedures all begin with a tiny amount of local anesthetic being injected through a very fine needle. The local anesthetic begins to numb the skin, then a slight tingling sensation. The needle will feel a little pressure at the injection site once the skin has numb. Your doctor will administer more local anesthetic if you feel any discomfort during the procedure. The needle placement is painless. The needle tip may rub against the nerve while it is being placed. This can be similar to hitting your “funny bones”. There may be some temporary discomfort along the nerve root after the injection of the local painkiller. This usually lasts about 15 seconds. These sensations are normal.
Will I “Be Awake” for this Procedure?
You have the option to make this decision. You have the option to have the procedure performed under local anesthesia only. You may also opt for IV sedation which can make you feel very relaxed. You may feel drowsy or forget the procedure is even happening, depending on your comfort level. However, no matter how much sedation you choose, it is important that you do not eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the procedure. You can take your medication with a glass of water.
Neck injections, are usually done lying down on your stomach. You will be closely monitored for oxygenation and blood pressure. A nurse will also be present in the room, along with your doctor, in case you have any concerns or discomfort. After the procedure is complete, the antiseptic solution is used to clean the skin on the neck and back.
You may feel your legs and arms becoming slightly heavier or numb immediately after the injection. Your pain might be reduced or gone altogether. The local anesthetic is able to reduce pain for only a few hours. You may feel some discomfort at the injection site.
What Do I Do After The Procedure Is Over?
After the procedure, we advise patients to rest for at least one day. You can continue to do what you feel comfortable with. Ice can be applied to the area by your recovery room nurse.
Can I Go Back to Work The Same Day or Next?
Unless the procedure is complicated, you should be able to return to work the next day. This will be discussed with you by your doctor or the recovery room nurse.
How Long Will It Last?
Local anesthetic injections provide immediate relief. It will wear off within a few hours. The procedure will only last about 20 minutes.