Nerve Root Blocks
A nerve root block is a local anesthetic that is injected along the nerve root in the spine in order to alleviate pain. The spine contains ‘foramina’ or ‘holes’ by which nerve roots surface. Sometimes these holes can become partly blocked due to misalignment of vertebrae, bone spurs, or bulging disks, etc., causing the nerve root to eventually pinch. This generally causes an intense, radiating or shooting pain along that specific nerve root.
Spinal Nerve Inflammation
Spinal nerves can develop inflammation from compression, for instance due to bone spur contact or from a damaged disc. Depending on the exact location of the nerve itself, pain or other associated symptoms like tingling or numbness may arise in different places throughout the body as well. In the cervical spine, nerve irritation may cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the shoulder, arm, or neck. In the thoracic spine, nerve irritation can generate pain in the upper back or pain near the ribs and/or chest wall. Lumbar (lower back) nerve irritation can create pain in the lower back, buttock pain, hip pain, or pain, numbness, or tingling in the leg.
How Selective Nerve Root Blocks are Performed
The procedure is generally performed with the patient lying on their side for a neck injection and on their belly for a back injection, while oxygenation and blood pressure are typically monitored. In addition to the X-ray technician and doctor, a nurse is often present in the room in case you need anything throughout the procedure. The neck or back skin is thoroughly cleansed with antiseptic prior to starting the procedure. Although the injection itself only takes a couple of minutes, it’s best to allow a full hour to get the procedure done.
What to Expect
After your skin is completely numb, you may feel some pressure from the needle at the injection site, even though the needle placement isn’t painful. But, remember that the nerve root is irritated, sore, and pinched, and so while the local anesthetic is being injected, you could feel somewhat achy along the nerve root temporarily until the anesthetic starts to set in, which usually takes around 15 seconds or so. All of these sensations are quite normal.
Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center is located in Lawrenceville, GA servicing patients living in Metro Atlanta, Gwinnett County and the surrounding communities including Duluth, Dacula, and Grayson. Call 678-878-4555 today to schedule an appointment today.