Nerve Root Sleeve Injection

What is it?

Nerve root sleeve injections are performed by a radiologist to alleviate pain in the back caused by an inflamed nerve sheath (a cover that surrounds the nerve). The cause of this pain and inflammation can be due to arthritis of nearby facet joints, a previous injury, or inter-vertebral disc prolapsed (slip) which then cause compression the nerve.

The purpose of the injection is to relieve the pain - it does not cure or treat the underlying condition causing the pain and inflammation as it is usually secondary to the above mentioned disease processes.

How is it done?

You will be asked to lie prone (face down) on the CT scan table. The skin over the exact area of your back pain is uncovered, and the doctor will clean your skin with betadine (an iodine-based antiseptic solution to ensure the procedure is clean). A mixture of local anaesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroid medicine (cortisone) will be injected. The local anaesthetic takes a few minutes to take effect.

The injection is done under CT guidance - the radiologist will be able to see the compressed nerve root and surrounding inflamed area andthe needle on the same image as he/she guides the needle towards the nerve sheath. This ensures the medication is delivered to the exact site of pain and inflammation which is vital for the procedure to be successful.

Please notify us of any medication you are on (especially anti-coagulant/blood thinners such as warfarin) or allergies.

Post Procedure

The needle may sting for a few minutes before the local anaesthetic takes effect. After the injection some patients experience worst pain symptoms than normal, however at most within a few days the cortisone will begin to take effect and your pain will be much reduced or even gone. The effect of this injection can last anywhere between weeks to months to over a year, but eventually you will need a repeat injection. Please rest for a few days after the injection.