A selective nerve block (SNRB) is the injection of a local anesthetic along a specific nerve root. This procedure is used primarily to diagnose nerve root compression. SNRB injections are isolated to various locations along the spine to determine which nerve root is causing the pain. If the patient’s pain dissipates after the injection at a particular nerve root, it can be inferred that the source of pain was being generated at the selected nerve root. Along with acting as a diagnostic tool, SNRBs can alleviate the discomfort associated with nerve root compression when used with an injectable steroid.
Administering a selective nerve block only takes a few minutes, but it is recommended to allow an hour for the entire visit, including a pre-operative consultation with the physician as well as post-operative observation.
What Happens during Selective Nerve Blocks?
A selective nerve block is performed by injecting a local anesthetic adjacent to vertebral foramina along the spine from which nerve roots emerge. Prior to the block being administered, the site is anesthetized with a local anesthetic.
Patients may feel some mild radiating pain as the medication is injected adjacent to the affected nerve root.
After receiving a selective nerve block, patients are advised to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving for at least 24 hours. It is advised that patients rest for a few days following the procedure.
Perform activities within your range without stressing your spine.
Possible Side Effects
There are few side effects of selective nerve blocks. Immediately after the procedure, your arms and legs may feel heavy and numb. This is due to the local anesthetic and usually wears off within a few hours. Other side effects can include pain at the injection site and headaches. In rare cases, patients experience infection, bleeding or nerve damage.