A selective nerve root block is a minimally invasive procedure used as a therapeutic tool to relieve the pain you are experiencing in your lower back or leg. It also will help determine the source of your pain. A selective nerve block is performed when symptoms seem related to a single abnormality and when there is a need to assess which nerve is specifically responsible for your symptoms. The period of pain relief following injection is variable and unpredictable in each individual.
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The lower back will be cleansed with an antiseptic, and the skin will be numbed with a local anesthetic. The radiologist will use fluoroscopy (X-ray) to guide a thin needle next to the selected nerve in the lower back while you lie on your stomach. The position of the needle is checked using X-ray contrast and then a steroid medication and local anesthetic will be injected slowly around the selected nerve. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. During the procedure, you may feel mild pressure, tingling or cramping in your legs and buttocks. These sensations are normal.
Please inform your doctor and the radiologist if you are allergic to iodine, contrast material, or X-ray dye so that you can be pre-medicated.
Following the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home. You may resume normal activity as tolerated.
Because this is an invasive procedure, there are a few complications that may occur:
- arachnoiditis or scarring of the nerves - this is a rare complication
- temporary increased pain after the procedure
- inadvertent puncture of the spinal canal which could cause headache among other symptoms and may require rescheduling of the steroid injection
- adverse reaction to contrast material used, which contains iodine.
Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 704-442-4390.