Nerve Root Block

Selective nerve root blocks are similar to epidurals. Instead of medicating all of the nerve roots, selective blocks are done so as to cover just one or two nerve roots.

There are two types of selective nerve root blocks three quarters diagnostic and therapeutic. In the case of a diagnostic block, just enough medication is placed to numb exactly one root. By doing this, the doctor can determine if the nerve root is causing the pain. Therapeutic blocks involve more medication and different medication.

Nerve roots are attached to the spinal cord. One exits each side of the spine at every vertebral level. These nerves carry signals throughout the body from the skin to the muscles. When one of the nerve roots is irritated, patients may experience pain, numbness, tingling, and sometimes weakness down an arm or a leg. A diagnostic selective block can be used to prove that a pinched nerve is the problem.

The blocks eliminate arm or leg pain about half of the time. They are not used for midline back pain.

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