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Epidural and Selective Spinal Nerve Blocks

Epidurals and selective spinal nerve blocks are valuable tools in the management and diagnosis of spinal and extremity pain conditions. These procedures aid in identifying and treating ailments such as spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, herniated discs, and bone spurs, all of which contribute to discomfort in the spine and extremities.

 

Purpose and Process

Anesthesiologists employ both outpatient injections to deliver either numbing agents or steroid medications directly to the cervical and lumbar spinal areas. Numbing agents temporarily desensitize specific nerves, aiding physicians in pinpointing the exact source of chronic pain. Steroids, on the other hand, act as sustained-release anti-inflammatories, reducing nerve irritation and providing prolonged pain relief.

 

Distinguishing Features

While both selective spinal nerve blocks and epidurals serve diagnostic and therapeutic roles, they differ in their delivery methods. Selective spinal nerve blocks precisely target a specific nerve site, enhancing accuracy. In contrast, epidurals have a broader impact, affecting a wider area of the spine’s outer membrane, known as the “dura.”

 

Selective Spinal Nerve Blocks

A selective spinal nerve block, sometimes referred to as a selective nerve root block (SNRB), entails injecting anti-inflammatory or numbing medication directly into a designated nerve. To minimize discomfort during the procedure, a local anesthetic numbs the skin first. A needle is then meticulously guided to the chosen nerve root for medication administration.

 

Epidurals

Epidural injections involve the use of a slender needle to penetrate the dura, the protective membrane surrounding the spinal cord. Local anesthetics are commonly employed for patient comfort during this process. Epidurals are frequently employed to alleviate pain and irritation stemming from conditions like spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows. Patients may experience substantial pain relief within a day following a therapeutic epidural injection.

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