Cervical Selective Nerve Root Block
While not a primary treatment, the cervical selective nerve root block can give your physician or pain relief specialist a lot of information concerning your condition. Nerve roots leave the spinal cord to form the nerves traveling to other parts of the body. Sometimes these roots can become inflamed which causes pain. The inflammation is caused by irritation or from injury. A damaged disc can cause pain and inflammation to the nerve roots.
When the cervical selective nerve root block is used, it allows the physician to see if the nerve root blocked is the one that is causing the pain. If it is the one suspected, then proper treatment can move forward. If not, another can be tried or this may validate concerns your physician has about another reason for the pain.
What Is It Used For?
A number of pain issues can originate from the cervical part of the spinal column. Nerve roots that exit the spinal cord and move into the arms can receive the block. If you have pain from a pinched nerve or another injury that has caused a nerve to be inflamed then you may be a good candidate for a cervical selective nerve root block.
When the nerve root that is blocked is determined to be the origin of your pain, you can then have another type of pain relief method used to help you. There are many other methods that will work to heal the nerve. Once the nerve is healed, your pain may be gone for good.
What Happens During the Block?
You will lie on a table and be positioned so the technician can see the best place to direct the needle. An X-ray is used to guide the technician (physician). While using the guide, he or she will be able o visualize the openings where the nerve roots exit the spinal cord.
Once the doctor has found the area o place the needle, the skin in this area is numbed. There may be a stinging sensation until the numbing medicine becomes effective. A tiny amount of dye is injected to give positioning guides through X-ray to the doctor so that he or she knows that the needle is going into the exact spot desired.
Once positioned, the anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory is injected. After the medication has been injected, the doctor will have you move around in ways that normally cause pain. If there is no pain then this indicates your nerve injected was the one responsible for the pain.
If the pain is relieved, your doctor will ask you how much pain was relieved- none, some, or all? You may also be asked to keep a record of the pain relief during the week following the procedure. This will let your doctor know if the procedure will need to be repeated and how often. It can also give an idea of how you will respond to other types of nerve blocks.
There might also be some weakness or numbness in the arm or limb associated with the nerve for a few hours after. This is common and should not cause worry. Your doctor can give you a better idea of how long the numbness will last based on the nerve that was blocked.
Getting Ready and After-care
Before the administration of any anesthetic it is a good idea to avoid heavy meals. Some people have a bad reaction to anesthetics, including nausea and vomiting. If you have a history of this reaction, avoid eating before the procedure. You will receive your own set of instructions before having the procedure, but in general, light meals are fine for people that have no reactions to anesthetics.
If you are a diabetic, do not change your eating pattern. Other conditions that require medications should be discussed prior to the treatment, Your doctor will let you know which medications should be avoided – i.e.: anti-inflammatories, pain medication).
After the procedure you may need to avoid bathing for a few days. A shower is usually fine after the first day. Once a scab forms over the insertion site you can wash it, though avoid pressing on the area in order to avoid adding discomfort to the site.