Nerve root injection

Nerve root injection (PP code A5290)

Patients with a slipped disc may have leg or arm pain that doesn’t settle with adequate analgesia. In this situation, if the patient doesn’t wish to consider surgery, or is too frail to consider surgery, then a nerve root injection can be performed. This is in line with the new National Institute for Clinical excellence guidelines. The injection can also be used as a diagnostic procedure, to confirm that the pain is coming from the trapped nerve.

The procedure involves injecting a mixture of local anaesthetic, steroid and antibiotic around the trapped nerve. This is done under x-ray guidance and takes about 30 minutes. It is carried out as a day case. Most patients take the next day or 2 off but are able to return quite quickly to normal activity.

The risks of surgery include:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • nerve injury
  • pain, numbness
  • weakness, paralysis
  • incontinence, impotence

Most patients will see a response to the injection within hours or days. For some patients this response is sustained as a long-term result. However, many patients require repeat injections and some fail to improve with injection therapy.