Nerve Root Block: Risks, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pain relief resulted from nerve root blocks ranges from minimal to long-term. If a patient experiences a period of sustained pain relief from the injection, the injection may be repeated for further pain relief.

Sometimes, nerve root block is conducted to help the physician determine whether or not surgery will be helpful and if yes, at what level of the spine the surgery should be performed.

Nerve blocks are one of the treatment options for those who suffer from back pain. It is very beneficial for sciatica pain. During the procedure, the nerve root that is pinched is blocked.

What is a Nerve Root Block

A nerve root block is the injection of a therapeutic steroid and local anesthetic medication under X-ray guidance into the area where the nerve exits in the spinal column (nerve root). Nerve root block injections can be used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

A nerve root injection is a safe treatment procedure to relieve the symptoms of pain. The local anesthetic and steroid, which can be injected in the nerve, help ease the pain. This procedure is not typically the first option. Usually, pain management starts with medications and physical therapy. But injection for sciatica nerve pain is worth trying before agreeing to have a surgery. It can serve both as pain treatment and as diagnostic procedure.

What to expect from Nerve Root Blocks

Your pain may be improved immediately after a nerve root block injection. The steroid used in nerve block injections, however, usually takes two or three days to start to have an effect in most people, peaking in about two weeks. If you experience local tenderness after receiving nerve block injections, use an ice pack three to four times a day to help alleviate the tenderness. Remember to keep track of the amount of pain relief you have received and how long the relief lasts, because this information may help your physician in determining your next treatment.

The day of the injection for sciatica nerve pain, the patients shouldn’t drive, so you should find someone to pick you up from the hospital and bring home.

After the procedure, you shouldn’t apply heat to the injection site. So, you can’t take a bath, soak in water or have a warm shower the day after the nerve root block.

If you take any medications, consult with your doctor to determine whether you can continue taking them. For instance, you can be advised to temporarily stop taking blood-thinning medications.

This procedure has two main benefits. It can be either a treatment of pain or can be used to find the source of pain. If the source of pain is determined, a patient can have a long-term pain relief.

The procedure itself is rather quick and easy. After the procedure, the patient is taken to the recovery area in the hospital, where a nurse checks blood pressure and pulse. Usually, you can go home about an hour after the procedure. But it is not advised to drive yourself.

Nerve Root Block Risks

You should know that this procedure shouldn’t be performed if a patient has an active infection, such as flu, cold, high blood pressure, fever, etc. Also, it can be recommended to avoid it if you take blood-thinning medications.

The risks of nerve root block are similar to other procedures risks. You can experience excess bleeding or allergic reaction to the medications used. The injection site can get infected, or the procedure can result in a nerve damage.

A patient can also feel some weakness or numbness after the procedure. The injection site can be sore or sensitive for a day or two, but the recovery after the procedure is very fast. Usually, patients return home the same day after the procedure and can return to their normal activities the next day.

Remember that if you don’t feel instant pain relief, it might take time for the medication to take effect.


Nerve root block can treat a number of conditions and symptoms. It can relieve pain that is caused by an inflamed nerve root. An inflammation in nerve roots can be caused by a bulging or herniated disc.

It is also a great sciatic nerve pain treatment option.

It is also suitable for some degenerative changes such as bone spurs cause painful nerve compression or scoliosis.

These and some other conditions can be treated by a nerve root block. If there are several issues causing pain, multiple nerve blocks can be performed.


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