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Selective Nerve Root Block

What is a Selective Nerve Root Block Injection?

Selective nerve root block (SNRB) injections are designed to deliver relief from pain due to compression and inflammation of nerves in the spinal cord. When compared to other techniques the target-specific administration of chemicals and/or medications involved in a selective nerve injection delivers a more precise administration of drugs directly to the nerves.

Pain originating from the lower back and the leg are the common sites for selective nerve injections. It is used therapeutically to relieve pain and as a diagnostic tool, where it is used to identify if a certain nerve is the cause of the patients pain and symptoms.

How does a Selective Nerve Root Block Work?

A selective nerve root block works by directly administering a drug to either irritate or numb a specific nerve. First, a numbing agent (local anesthesia) is applied to the skin where the needle will be pierced. With the help of an x-ray device (fluoroscope), a needle is inserted directly to the nerve where the painful area is located. A contrast dye is then injected to confirm the correct needle placement. Afterwards, a corticosteroid and or Botox is injected into the never to reduce inflammation and pain.

What Conditions are Selective Nerve Root Blocks Used for?

Selective nerve blocks can be effective for conditions where a localized ‘block’ is required to reduce and stop pain from being felt. In general, these are the conditions when there is an increased pressure within the bone cavity where a nerve traverses. Some common conditions with selective nerve injections are:

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Cervical radiculopathy
  • Lumbar radiculopathy
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Sciatica

Who is a Candidate for a Selective Nerve Block Injection?

Candidates for selective nerve block are patients who fail to receive adequate pain relief with use of conventional oral drugs, muscle injections, physical therapy and other pain relieving techniques. Often, these patients suffer from prolonged pain exposure and restriction of body movement. Selective nerve root block injections can provide an instant and target-specific pain relief if successful.

Benefits of Selective Nerve Injections

When successful, selective nerve block injections can provide almost rapid relief of pain from chronic long term conditions, as well as those that occur during the healing process of conditions like herniated discs. Aside from pain relief selective nerve block injections are also used as a diagnostic tool to determine if a specific nerve is the potential source of pain. The result of the procedure may help to guide further treatment that can result in longer pain relief for patients.

What are the Risks for Selective Nerve Root Block Injections?

Selective nerve block injections are generally perceived as a safe medical procedure. However, some side effects and complications might occur. Pain and tenderness at the injection site after the procedure is common.

Tell your doctor if you have bleeding problems, and if you are taking any blood-thinning medications. As this procedure will utilize a contrast media for guided visualization of the needle, you should notify your physician if you have any known allergies to seafood, iodine, or to any other substance in order to avoid fatal anaphylactic reactions. Although uncommon, damage to the nerve and nearby tissues may occur.

What to Expect

Patients typically receive selective nerve block injections in an outpatient setting and generally do not need to be admitted to a hospital. Provided that there are no observed complications or adverse reactions patients can usually leave shortly after the procedure is performed.

The use of a corticosteroid in selective nerve injections may deliver immediate pain relief after the injection, but the drugs injected into the nerve may take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to provide significant pain relief. If successful, therapeutic injections can provide several days or many months of pain relief.

Meet Our Neurologists

At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of many conditions where a selective nerve root block (SNRB) may be preformed to treat a chronic pain condition or as a diagnostic tool to aid in a correct diagnosis. Dr. ShimizuDr. O’ConnorDr. Jordan, Dr. Chang, and Dr. Franc all diagnose and treat patients with conditions that may be best treated with or diagnosed by using a selective nerve root block (SNRB). If you suffer from chronic pain due to: sciatica, herniated discs, spinal stenosis,  or cervical (neck) or lumbar (low back) radiculopathy and need a specialist contact one of them to schedule an appointment at 310-829-5968.