For people suffering from painful symptoms due to a herniated disc in the spinal cord, there are several treatment options that can be considered before surgery is required. Some of the options include physical therapy, chiropractic care, the application of hot or cold presses and many others. In addition, another treatment option some herniated disc patients might consider is either an epidural steroid injection or a selective nerve root block, according to Spine Health.
An epidural steroid injection for a herniated disc is handled similarly to how it is handled for a degenerated disc. Epidural steroid injections are the most common kind of injections for pain associated with spinal discs. The injection itself consists of cortisone and a local anesthetic, and can be helpful for treating inflammation caused by a herniated disc. A study examining the effectiveness of epidural steroid injections for patients with lumbar (lower back region) herniated discs found that the injections were “effective for up to three years by nearly half of the patients who had not had improvement with six or more weeks of noninvasive care.”
In addition to epidural steroid injections, a patient with a herniated disc may be given the option of a selective nerve root block. The injection consists of a steroid and lidocaine and a live x-ray, known as fluoroscopy, to ensure that the injection is administered to the right location. A selective nerve root block is injected to either diagnose a source of nerve root pain or to provide relief for lower back pain and/or pain in the legs caused by compressed and inflamed nerve roots. Sometimes, a magnetic resonance imaging scan doesn’t clearly identify the specific source of pain for a patient, so a selective nerve root block is performed to find the source of pain.
Selective nerve root blocks can also be helpful for pain management. In one study, twenty-five patients received computed tomography fluoroscopy-guided selective nerve root blocksto treat severe arm pain caused by a herniated disc. Eighteen of the patients improved after the procedure, so the researchers concluded that the procedure “may play a role as a primary conservative treatment for severe arm pain caused by acute cervical disc herniation.”