Open Accessibility Menu

Selective Nerve Root Blocks

Helping Residents in South Central Missouri and North Central Arkansas

Selective nerve root blocks, also referred to as SNRBs, are fairly painless procedures involving the application of small needles. These procedures are generally used to treat both chronic and acute pain conditions in patients. SNRBs are usually utilized in order to reduce pain levels and inflammation around a specific nerve located in the lower back area. When irritated, these nerves often cause radicular pain in the affected area. Radicular pain travels along the nerve and it is often felt in patients’ hips, legs, and feet. Patients frequently report that this type of pain feels like aching, burning, tingling, shooting, or numbness.

Medical conditions commonly treated using selective nerve root blocks include:

  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Radiculopathy: Pain that travels down your legs or arms
  • Stenosis: When the spinal canal or nerve root exits become narrow
  • Failed back surgery syndrome: Pain felt even after spinal surgery is conducted

For more information regarding this procedure, please call Interventional Pain Management, a department of Baxter Regional, at (870) 508-5900.

The Procedure

On the date of your appointment, please arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Our nurses will get you set up with an IV if you want sedation and then they will conduct a nurse pre-operation assessment to ensure everything is good to go. They will then lead you to the procedure room where you will lay down on a hospital bed. After you are set up in the procedure room, we will provide you with nitrous oxide gas and sedation to help make you more comfortable. At this point, we place a cold cleaning solution on all our patients to lessen the risk of infection. Using x-ray guidance, your doctor will locate the procedure spot and inject a small amount of numbing medication. The shot may sting slightly but the pain will pass quickly. Then, the epidural needle will be inserted into the epidural space, injecting dye to confirm proper needle positioning. A combination of steroid and local anesthetics will comprise the medication that will be injected through the needle. The medication should completely covered the affected nerve area, leading to what many patients report as a feeling of warm water running down their back or legs. This feeling is totally normal and expected, and is actually a good indicator that the needle was placed correctly. The needle will then be removed and you will be directed to the recovery room where we will observe your condition for 15 minutes. The procedure only takes about 15 minutes; then after the 15 more minutes of observation, you will be allowed to leave and recover in the comfort of your own home.

What to Expect Afterwards

The steroid’s effects will usually be felt within three to five days, but some patients may not feel its full benefits until about a week after the procedure. Many patients reported feeling lowered levels of pain and inflammation, allowing them to engage in physical activities more actively and frequently. The side effects of the steroids are typically minimal, but some patients may experience headaches, temporary water retention, difficulty sleeping, paralysis, anxiety, or changes in their menstrual cycle. If you are diabetic, you may experience elevated blood pressure for a few days. Fortunately, these side effects are mild and should disappear within a week.

Selective nerve root blocks have been perfected over the past several decades and they are widely considered to be a safe and effective method to treat chronic and acute pain conditions. Medical complications with the procedure are extremely rare, but they could include bleeding, infection, damage to the nerves, allergic reactions, headaches, or paralysis.

Back to top