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Selective Nerve Root Block

What is a Selective Nerve Root Injection?

A selective nerve root block injection is an injection of a long-lasting steroid (cortisone) around the nerve root as it exits the spinal column.

The injection reduces the inflammation and pain caused by pressure on the nerve. It can also be used as a diagnostic tool to help doctors determine whether the nerve is irritated by “numbing” the nerve. One of the most common conditions to benefit from selective nerve root injections is a herniated disc that causes low back and leg pain, also known as sciatica.

What Should I Do After the Procedure?

We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. Perform the activities you’re comfortable with. We will advise you about applying ice to the site.

Who Should Not Have This Injection?

If you are allergic to any of the medications to be injected, if you are on a blood-thinning medication (e.g. Coumadin, injectable Heparin), or if you have an active infection, you should not undergo this procedure. With blood thinners like Coumadin, your doctor may advise you to stop this for 4-7 days beforehand or take “bridge therapy” with Lovenox prior to the procedures. Anti-platelet drugs like Plavix may have to be stopped for 5-10 days prior to the procedure.

What are the Risks?

Overall, this procedure has very few risks. However, as with any procedure, there are some risks and side effects you should know about. Side effects may include increased pain from the injection (which is usually temporary), a rarely inadvertent puncture of the "sack" containing spinal fluid (which may cause headaches), infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or no relief from your usual pain.

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