Nerve root blocks

The Spinal Specialist Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Service works in collaboration with the Radiology Department at Torbay Hospital.

If an MRI, CT Scan or X Ray is requested, you will be referred to Radiology to be assessed for suitability and completion of the investigation.

If a Spinal Nerve Root Injection is offered, this will normally be done by an MSK Specialist Radiologist/Technician. This will be discussed in detail in your consultation, and you may be referred to Radiology for this to be completed.

Nerve root injections or ‘nerve root blocks’ are used to reduce pain in a particular area if you have lower limb pain such as sciatica. They are not done to ease symptoms of low back pain as there may be many causes of this. They are not typically used for neck pain or brachialgia due to the high level of risk.

The injection is done by Radiology. Your Spinal Specialist Orthopaedic Physiotherapist will refer you to radiology for a nerve root block after discussion with you and gaining your consent.

Fluoroscopic Imaging is used to help guide a needle into the area where the affected nerve root is located. Fluoroscopy is the use of a ‘contrast’ solution which is injected around the nerve root and helps it to be identified easily on x-ray. Once the nerve root is identified, the injection is performed. The injection consists of a corticosteroid and local anaesthetic. Corticosteroid is an anti-inflammatory solution and local anaesthetic helps to numb or ‘block’ the pain. You may be asked to lay on your front or side for the injection.

The injection can reduce pain and inflammation around the nerve root. It can take some time to have an effect. These injections can treat your limb symptoms such as leg and buttock pain. They can also help us to decide whether surgery is likely to be beneficial.

For further information, please see our Radiology page.

For video information on Fluoroscopic Guided Injections please see our Fluoroscopy page.