Nerve Root Block
This is a steroid or anaesthetic injection into the area of your back which is causing the pain. The procedure is used to treat back pain caused by a trapped or inflamed nerve in the spinal column. This can be due to a narrowed exit hole for the nerve (foraminal stenosis), a slipped disc (far lateral disc) or by a slipped backbone (spondylolisthesis). A nerve root block injection may improve your pain but it isn’t a cure for your condition. The injection will reduce pain for most patients for varying lengths of time and will completely and permanently eliminate pain for some patients.
Facet Joint Injections
Facet joints connect the vertebrae together and keep the spine in alignment. Anaesthetic or steroid injections into the joints can help where they are affected by arthritis. The procedure is not always an effective cure for back pain but it can reduce the level of your pain.
The injection is a mixture of local anaesthetic (which numbs the nerves for a few hours) and steroid (which gives longer-term reduction in inflammation of the joint and nerves). If the facet joint injection is successful in relieving your symptoms it can be repeated at four-monthly intervals.
The injection is performed as a day case so you’ll be able to return home on the same day, but you won’t be able to drive yourself. A local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area of the injection so you won’t feel anything. It’s vital that this injection is made in exactly the right place, so the surgeon will be guided by X-ray or computed tomography images (CT scan) while the procedure is carried out. Facet joint injections may be carried out on a number of joints during the same operation
Any dressings you have may be removed the following day. You can return to gentle activities after two days but more physical activities should be avoided for up to five days. You may be able to return to work during this period. It may take up to six weeks for you to realise the full benefits of the procedure.
A nerve root block injection is usually successful in relieving your pain, but it’s difficult to predict by how much. Some patients can develop a headache after the treatment but this usually disappears after 24 hours or so. Other possible risks are rare, and include a temporary worsening of your pain, nerve damage and a lowering of your blood pressure.
After a facet joint injection you may initially experience an increase in your pain for a few days. Rarely, patients experience an increased level of pain for much longer. The procedure usually helps to reduce the level of your pain but the underlying arthritis will still be present.