Selective nerve root block for back pain and diagnosis


A selective nerve root block is the least invasive process that is used to determine and treat cervical, thoracic and lumbar pain and correlated chronic pain. It is based on injecting a local anesthesia straight to the targeted nerve root in the spine to aid in determining the cause of the patient’s pain syndrome

Whenever a spinal nerve root becomes inflamed or squeeze it can cause spinal pain, additionally the symptoms are experienced in the upper or lower portion of the spinal cord, relying upon the place of the nerves located

For instance, cervical spine nerve inflammation may cause pain, numbness, and twitching in the neck, shoulders and arms

Where as thoracic spine nerve can consequently bring pain in the upper back or pain along the chest wall and ribs.

The patients’ cause of the pain is not easy to determine in some cases, imaging study and MRI may not identify  the exact nerve that is causing pain. In such conditions a selective nerve root block may be a better  choice to confine the nerve root that is causing pain. Additionally, the selective nerve root block can also provide a good pain relief for various conditions along with its diagnostic ability

How Are Selective Nerve Root Blocks Performed?

The procedure takes between 30 to 60 minutes to complete, the process of selective nerve root block is performed with the patient lying face down position under an X- ray. The skin of the affected area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and given a local anesthesia for numbness. A needle is then injected under the guidance of an X-ray into the proper position within the spinal cord, a noticeable amount of pigmentation is also injected to confirm the needle is in its correct position

The injections are consisted of local anesthesia and steroid is injected into the affected area. Once the process of injecting is complete, the doctor observes the vital signs of the patient, if the pain is relieved after the selective nerve root block it is assumed that the pain causing nerve is determined

The pain relief from the selective nerve root block can be varied from patient to patient and last from several days to months


Soon after the selective nerve root block the patient may experience raised pain at the injection site, lightheadedness, increased spinal pain, nausea, headache and vomiting

Other risks associated with selective nerve root block are rarely observed, including; infection, bleeding and allergic reactions to the medications given during the process or in the extremely rare cases nerve damage and paralysis can be seen