Selective nerve root blocks are similar to epidural steroid injections. Instead of putting medication in to cover all of the nerve roots, selective blocks are injected to cover just 1 or 2 nerve roots. Using a needle, small amounts of steroids and a local anesthetic are injected into nerves. The anti-inflammatory effects of the steroid provides pain relief. Nerve root blocks can be administered to the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar (low back) spine using fluoroscopy x-ray. After the block injection, some partial numbness from the anesthetic can occur in your arms or legs. Any partial numbness often subsides after a few hours. Improvements in pain often occur within 10 days after the injection, and can be noticed as soon as 1 to 5 days after the injection.
On the day of the injection, do not drive and avoid doing any strenuous activities. On the day following the procedure, you can return to your regular activities. If the selective nerve root block is effective in alleviating your back pain, it can be administered up to 3 times per year.