This is a procedure where an injection is used to deliver medication to nerves in your neck.  

What happens during a cervical nerve root injection?

An injection is used to deliver medication to nerves in your neck. This is usually a steroid and sometimes a mixture of local anaesthetic and steroid will be injected. Steroids reduce inflammation.  By injecting directly around the nerve, the medication coats the nerve roots as they exit the spine thereby reducing discomfort.

Your doctor will discuss the procedure with you and answer any question you have before proceeding. The procedure may be performed using a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy or alternatively using a CT scanner. You will be asked to lie on your stomach, with your head turned to the side. 

After sterilizing and numbing your skin, the doctor will administer the injection, which takes a couple of minutes.  You may experience some mild discomfort during the injection, but this usually resolves once the injection is finished. The needle is then removed and a small dressing is applied to the site.  

It is possible to feel numbness or heaviness in your neck or arms depending on the injection site.  This is normal and should subside completely in a matter of hours.

After a short observation period, you will be allowed to go home. The entire procedure usually takes approximately half an hour, though occasionally more time is required.

What should I expect after the injection?

After your injection you should feel the same or better for the first 12 hours. The local anaesthetic will then wear off and you may experience a return of your pain. You should start feeling some pain relief two to three days following the injection. This may last for a matter of days, weeks and occasionally months. It can take up to 10 to 14 days to take effect.

What should I bring on the day?

Please bring any scans you may have had of your neck on disc, if these scans were obtained outside the Mater Hospital.

  • You can eat and drink as normal.  
  • Take all your tablets as normal unless instructed. Bring any inhalers with you.
  • After you check in at main radiology reception, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will be met by a doctor and asked to sign a consent form.
  • You may ask any questions and discuss any issues you may have.

Known risks and side effects associated with the injection

Due to the procedure:

  • Infection (rare)
  • Bleeding (from the injection site) rare
  • Altered sensation below the level of the injection
  • More discomfort from the first few days after the injection
  • Bruising to the injection site
  • Altered motor function (reduced power) below the level of the injection
  • Stroke (This potentially severe complication is very rare but has occurred in some hospitals around the world. This has never happened at the Mater Hospital. Evidence suggests the risk is extremely low when using our technique that utilises a specific corticosteroid called dexamethasone.
  • Allergy to the injected medication

Due to the injected steroid:

  • Facial flushing for a few days
  • Temporary increase in sugar levels (diabetics)

Important information

Please inform the Radiology Department if you are taking any of following tablets before attending, as some of these may need to be stopped some days before the procedure.

  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Plavix
  • Warfarin
  • Dabigatran

Special note for females

This examination should be performed within the first ten days of your menstrual cycle. If you think you might be pregnant contact the Radiology Department.

You must not drive home or go home via public transport. Please arrange for someone to collect you from the Radiology Department.