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Nerve root blocks deliver a local anesthetic and/or steroid to the space around a spinal nerve root in order to prevent pain from traveling the nerve pathway and reaching the brain. It is also used as a sort of diagnostic tool — if your pain is relieved after the injection, it helps your doctor confirm which nerve is causing the problem. The procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes and utilizes fluoroscopy, a type of video imaging, in order to find the spinal nerve.

What conditions does it treat?

A selective nerve root block can be used to relieve lower back pain and leg pain, as well as numbness and tingling that can occur from compression inflaming the spinal nerves. It is used as a pain management technique for herniated discs and for complex regional pain syndrome, which involves the sympathetic nerves located at the front side of the spinal column.

What can I expect afterward?

It is not uncommon to have some sensitivity at the site of the injection. You may feel heaviness or numbness in the affected limb due to the anesthetic, but that wears off in a few hours. You can most likely return to work and other regular activities right away. The nerve root block can be repeated if the pain returns.