Are Nerve Blocks and Epidural Injections Different?

Are Nerve Blocks and Epidural Injections Different?

If you are suffering from pain and inflammation caused due to a disc issues, sciatica, or spinal stenosis, your doctor can recommend either a selective nerve root block or epidural steroid injection to relieve your pain.

Epidural steroid injection

An epidural steroid injection usually delivers a steroid and an anesthetic into the epidural space around the spine. This area encloses the nerves, spinal fluid, and spinal cord. A steroid injection into this space helps to reduce inflammation in nerve roots and intervertebral discs. Alleviating the inflammation can relieve your back pain and allow your body to heal.

Epidural steroid injections can be different types, for example –

  • A caudal injection is administered just above the tail bone to reduce lower back and leg pain caused due to sciatica, herniated discs and bone spurs
  • An interlaminar injection is administered between two vertebrae and can reduce lower back, leg, neck or arm pain caused by sciatica, herniated discs, misaligned vertebrae or other back problems
  • A transforaminal injection is placed in the opening on the side of the spine near the exiting nerve to alleviate back, legs and feet pain caused due to irritated nerve roots

Selective nerve root block

A selective nerve root block is a spinal injection in which an anesthetic is injected into a specific nerve root of the spine to identify the exact source of your pain.

The injection is similar to a transforaminal epidural steroid injection because it also contains steroid to decrease inflammation and pain. But the purpose of a selective nerve root block is not to deliver the medication in the epidural space rather, the aim is to cover the offending nerve root.

Effective treatments

Both types of injections are done with the help of fluoroscopic X-ray. Both are relatively painless procedures and only take about 15 – 30 minutes.

You are NOT a candidate for a selective nerve root block or epidural steroid injection if –

  • you are prone to excessive bleeding
  • you are currently taking blood-thinning medication
  • your back pain is the result of an infection or malignancy
  • there is any systemic bacterial infection or local infection near the injection site

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