Selective Nerve Root Injections
Nerves can become irritated from time to time, whether it’s because of chronic pressure or entrapment; this irritation can cause severe pain, such as in the case of a herniated disc.
To identify the affected nerve root and reduce inflammation and pain, doctors often use a selective nerve root injection as a treatment method.
What is a selective nerve root injection?
Doctors at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Spine Center use selective nerve root injections for mainly two reasons. First, they can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine which nerve root is the source of pain. Second, the injections can be used to relieve pain caused by an irritation to a specific nerve root.
If the selective nerve root injection has targeted the right root, you’ll notice relief almost immediately. Within days, you should experience reduced inflammation and pain relief that can last weeks to months.
One of the most common conditions to benefit from a selective nerve root block is a herniated disc that is causing low back and leg pain (sciatica) in the lumbar region of the spine.
What does the selective nerve root injection procedure involve?
Before the procedure begins, you will be placed on an X-ray table and your skin will be cleansed and sanitized. A local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area. Once it takes effect the physician will use fluoroscopy to locate the specific nerve root. A needle is then inserted into the area and an anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into it. The whole procedure takes just a couple minutes.
Once the injection is administered, you may feel immediate relief due to the anesthetic used. You may also experience some weakness, numbness, or tingling on the affected side. This is normal, as is leg pain that is temporarily worse than it was previous to the injection.
Often, nerve root injections are used in combination with physical therapy and exercise for long-term relief from conditions that are irritating and affecting the nerve roots.
If the first injection does not work in a week or two, you may need to have another injection. If three injections do not help with the pain and inflammation, other alternatives will need to be explored.
What should I expect after the procedure?
The local anesthetic wears off in a couple of hours. The steroid begins to reduce the inflammation in three days to a week and its effect can last from several days to several months. Unless you experience complications, you should be able to return to your normal activity level by the next day, including returning to work. If you are sore at the point of injection, some ice and ibuprofen or acetaminophen will reduce the discomfort until the area has time to heal.