Schedule an initial consultation at one of these locations:

Utah Vascular Clinic


650 East 4500 South, Suite 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Ogden Regional Medical Center


5475 South 500 East
Washington Terrace, UT 84405


Pain Management

Selective Nerve Root Block

What is a selective nerve root block?

A selective nerve root block is a medication injection designed to target nerve pain. Most commonly the injection combines an anesthetic – or "numbing" – medication with a steroid – or "cortisone".

Why is it done?

Spinal nerves are a frequent cause of pain due to pinching or irritation from a bone spur or bulging disk. With time, most episodes of acute spinal nerve pain will resolve. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes weeks or months for severe nerve pain to improve on its own. A selective nerve root block reduces pain, and can help some patients avoid surgery. A nerve root block can be repeated again in few weeks, if necessary.

At other times, it may be uncertain whether pain is due to a spinal nerve problem, or another cause like arthritis, bursitis, or a ligament tear. A selective nerve root block can help diagnose whether a specific nerve is the source of pain. In this case, an anesthetic – or "numbing" – medication is injected alone without a steroid. If the pain temporarily improves after a selective nerve root block, then the injection is considered "positive".

How is a selective nerve root done?

The patient is positioned on a special table and the skin over the spine is sterilized. A small injection of anesthetic is given to numb the skin. While watching under x-ray, the interventional doctor then guides a slender needle into the area where the nerve emerges from the spine, called the neural foramen. A small amount of contrast media – or "x-ray dye" – is injected to ensure the needle tip is in a safe and effective position. The medications are then injected and the needle is removed.

Recovery is usually very brief. Patients are advised to avoid soaking the area in a tub or using heating pads on the site for 48 hours to avoid a skin infection. Complications from a spinal injection are rare, but some patients report temporary sleeplessness, anxiety, flushing or elevated blood sugar.

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Do you know the signs & symptoms?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm.

  • Swelling, usually in one leg
    (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or
    Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

Pulmonary Embolism

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal.

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus