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Transforaminal Lumbar Injections

A nerve root block is the injection of a local anesthetic and a steroid medication around a nerve root.

Why is a nerve block preformed?

The nerve root block is used to diagnosis the cause of your pain and to treat your pain. The results can help a surgeon to determine where to perform the surgery.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • You MUST have someone with you to drive home.
  • You may have clear liquids after midnight until 2 hours before your appointment and the nothing to eat or drink. Clear liquids include Jell-O, broth, 7-Up, tea, coffee and apple juice. No milk or milk products. You may take all your normal medications, including pain medication with a sip of water.
  • If you are diabetic or have a bleeding disorder or take medications such as Coumadin, Lovenox, or Plavix that affect your bleeding, please call us at 570-271-6621.
  • Bring a list of your medications including dose and how often you take them.
  • Please bring with you any X-rays or MRI films and reports not done at Geisinger Medical Center.
  • You should plan on being here 2 to 4 hours.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You may be positioned on your stomach.
  • The area to be injected will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
  • The area to be injected will be numbed with a local anesthetic.
  • The doctor will use fluoroscopy (a special x-ray technique) to guide placement of the needle to the area of the involved nerve. You may feel a small "electric shock" sensation when the needle reaches the proper position.
  • When the needle is in the proper position a small amount of local anesthetic and steroid will be injected around the nerve root.

How long does the procedure take?

The procedure takes 20-30 minutes.

What complications might occur?

  • Fever
  • Infection at injection site
  • Bleeding

What happens after the procedure?

You will be taken to our recovery area where your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored for 15-20 min. You will be offered liquids. Discharge instructions will be reviewed and you will receive a copy of them when your check out.

Discharge instructions

  • No strenuous activity for 24 hours after the injection.
  • Do Not drive or operate machinery until the next day.
  • Take your usual pain medications or prescriptions as written.
  • You may eat your normal diet.

Temporary side effects

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities
  • Headache
  • Increased blood sugar in diabetic patients
  • Increased pain the first 48 hours

Warnings: Call Pain Medicine, 570-271-6621

  • Fever greater then 101 degrees
  • Redness, swelling or pus-like drainage at injection site
  • Severe headache

Return your follow-up questionnaire in the envelope provided in 7-10 days.

Your return appointment will be scheduled when you check out.

If you have any problems or concerns, please call us at 570-271-6621 Monday through Friday 7:30 to 4:30. If it is after hours, call 570-271-6211 and ask for the Chronic Pain physician on call.