Therapeutic selective nerve root block in the nonsurgical treatment of traumatically induced cervical spondylotic radicular pain

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Jun;83(6):446-54. doi: 10.1097/00002060-200406000-00007.


Objective: To investigate the outcomes resulting from the use of fluoroscopically guided therapeutic selective nerve root block in the nonsurgical treatment of traumatically induced cervical spondylotic radicular pain.

Design: Retrospective study with independent clinical review. A total of 15 patients who met specific physical examination or electrodiagnostic criteria and failed to improve clinically after at least 4 wks of physical therapy were included. Each patient demonstrated a positive response to a fluoroscopically guided cervical selective nerve root block. Therapeutic selective nerve root blocks were administered in conjunction with physical therapy. Outcome measures included visual analog scale pain scores, employment status, medication usage, and patient satisfaction.

Results: Patients' symptom duration before diagnostic injection averaged 13.0 mos. An average of 3.7 therapeutic injections were administered. Follow-up data collection transpired at an average of 20.7 mos after discharge from treatment. An overall good or excellent outcome was observed in three patients (20.0%). Among those treated without surgery, a significant reduction (P = 0.0313) in pain score was observed at the time of follow-up. Six patients (40.0%) proceeded to surgery.

Conclusions: These initial and preliminary findings do not support the use of therapeutic selective nerve root block in the treatment of this challenging patient population with traumatically induced spondylotic radicular pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Electrodiagnosis
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy / methods
  • Fluoroscopy / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Nerve Block / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Examination
  • Radiculopathy / diagnosis
  • Radiculopathy / etiology
  • Radiculopathy / therapy*
  • Radiography, Interventional / methods
  • Radiography, Interventional / psychology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Osteophytosis / diagnosis
  • Spinal Osteophytosis / etiology
  • Spinal Osteophytosis / therapy*
  • Spinal Stenosis / diagnosis
  • Spinal Stenosis / etiology
  • Spinal Stenosis / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications


  • Analgesics