A selective nerve root block is performed under fluoroscopy to target and determine if a specific spinal nerve root is your source of pain. It will reduce inflammation around the nerve root thus decreasing or relieving the pain. This can be given in the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar (lower back area).

The pain you are experiencing is usually caused from inflammation and irritation of a nerve root. By targeting a specific nerve root, and covering it with both numbing medication and steroids, maximum relief will be achieved.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selective Nerve Root Block

Who will give me the SNRB and how is it done?
The blocks are administered by a pain medicine specialist who is trained in chronic pain therapy. A local skin anesthetic is given. A very thin spinal needle is inserted with the guidance of x-ray to the area desired. An x-ray dye is then injected to confirm correct placement, once placement is achieved a mixture on numbing medication and steroids will be injected.

How long does it take?
The procedure will take less than an hour including recovery time.

Why can’t I just take oral steroids?
When steroids are taken by mouth most of the medication is absorbed in the stomach. Very little would reach the true source of pain. The same is also true for intramuscularly injections.

What should I expect?
The block takes place in a procedure room. You will be positioned lying on your stomach. The area will be cleansed with a sterile solution and numbed with an injection of Lidocaine. Many describe a burning or stinging sensation for a few seconds.

Will it work immediately?
Most patients will experience an immediate relief from pain due to the numbing medication that is mixed with the steroid. This will last from one to three hours after which the pain may return but at a lesser degree.

How should I prepare for the injection?
You may eat lightly before the procedure; ARRANGE FOR A DRIVER TO TAKE YOU HOME. Your procedure will be rescheduled if you do not have a driver; Notify the nurse if you are taking blood thinner, Aspirin or an anti-inflammatory. Approval will be needed from the doctor who ordered the blood thinner to stop taking the medication four days in advance for Coumadin, seven days for Aspirin and four days for anti-inflammatories and Plavix. Blood will need to be drawn prior to procedure to make sure it is not too thin; You may take your routine medication the day of the procedure (heart, diabetes, blood pressure); Expect to be at the office one to three hours. This includes registration, paperwork, review of consent, procedure, recovery and review of discharge instructions.

Cervical selective nerve root block, or SNRB, is an injection used to identify the source of nerve pain in the neck and sometimes to also provide longer-term pain relief. Watch Video