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Answer to your Health Question

Question (11/30/2012):

Title: How does the L5 nerve root block work? .

My husband got a 2nd opinion the 1st being (FBSS) failed back surgery syndrome.

This Dr. says either happened instantly upon impact of the fall and the L5 nerve root was compressed so hard and fast that the damage is total and permanently or that the herniated disc is still compressing it.

He wants to perform a nerve block and if it helps remove the disc and perform a fusion.

Because this would mean that the pain and numbness is coming by compression of the L5 nerve root.

And if it does not help it means that the damage to the nerve is total and permanent and happened instantly upon impact.

How does the nerve block work?

And if it does work is it possible that it is still being compressed after the microdiscectomy?

Answer:

Thank you very much for your question.

A nerve block is an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory injection targeted toward a certain nerve or group of nerves to treat pain.

Delivering a nerve block injection allows a damaged nerve time to heal itself from a state of constant irritation.

Additionally, nerve blocks can provide diagnostic information to the doctor.

By performing a nerve block and then monitoring how the patient responds to the injection, the doctor can often use this information to help determine the cause or source of the pain.

The medication delivered by the injection will be placed as close to the nerve causing the pain as possible.

It will then "shut down" the pain receptors within the nerve(s) causing the problem. Imaging can help the doctor place the needle in exactly the right spot.

The imaging itself is painless.

The effects of the injection are usually immediate.

It only takes a short time for the medication to achieve pain relief. However, nerve blocks are only a temporary fix-they typically last for up to one or two weeks and then wear off as they are absorbed by your body.

Some patients undergo several rounds of nerve blocks before they feel a more permanent sense of relief.

Others may not receive any permanent pain relief from this type of injection and may require different treatment methods to manage the pain or inflammation.

Discectomy (also called open discectomy) is the surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord.

Microdiscectomies have the same goal as open discectomies : remove the part of the intervertebral disc that's putting pressure on the nerve and causing pain.


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