What is a para vertebral block?

This is an injection on to the nerves which run beside the spinal column.

Why am I having injections?

The nerves can become irritated or inflamed which can cause pain. This procedure has proved to be very effective for pain relief in some patients.

What is injected?

A small amount of local anaesthetic with or without steroid is injected. The steroid acts only around the area it is injected and does not have the same effects as taking long term steroids.

Where is it done?

The procedure is carried out in the Hospital. A letter with directions and instructions will be sent to you.

How is it done?

  • You will be asked to wear a gown
  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the x-ray table
  • The area is cleaned with antiseptic
  • X-ray pictures are taken throughout the procedure to direct the needle into the correct place
  • The consultant will numb the area with local anaesthetic before putting in the Injection
  • Sedation is not normally used for this procedure
  • If you feel anxious then you can discuss it with the consultant prior to the injection being carried out

How long will I be in hospital?

Although the procedure itself takes 15-30 minutes you will be asked to stay for between 1-2 hours before you are allowed home. During this time you will be offered a drink and biscuit.

Can I eat and drink?

You may have a light early breakfast on the day of admission.

Can I take my usual tablets?

Take your usual tablets in the morning and bring them with you. Patients with diabetes and those taking warfarin will be given individual information.

Can I drive home?

For safety reasons you are asked not to drive on the day of the procedure. Also you should have someone with you for the rest of the day.

What can go wrong?

You may experience mild discomfort at the site of the injection. This should last no longer than 48 hours. In about one third of patients this can last up to week. Occasionally you may feel sore or ‘bruised’ for the first day or so, until the steroid starts to work. There may be a local allergic reaction to the injection, which results in redness and itching. This is not serious although we need to know for future treatments.

You may experience a numbness of the legs, which should only lasts a few hours.
On very rare occasions the needle may cause a small hole in the lung. This is called a pneumothorax. This can be a serious condition but is easily treated by the consultant. If this happens it would result in a longer stay in hospital.

Will it work?

Para vertebral blocks can be extremely effective but do not work for everyone.
They are easily performed and worth trying.