A cluneal nerve block injection is a treatment method for chronic lower back pain. Unlike radiofrequency rhizotomy, the nerves are not being burned in a cluneal injection. Rather, a steriod and anesthetic is being injected on the targeted nerve. The steriod has long-lasting effects when adminstered correctly, which is as close to the nerve roots as possible. Reducing the inflammation around the nerve causes the pain to to abate.
Prior to the cluneal nerve block, your provider will use diagnostic tools to help pinpoint the reason for the back pain. Temporary nerve blocks such as medial branch blocks can help the provider see where the pain is originating from. An MRI or spinal exam may be needed as well.
During the procedure, the area of pain will be under X-ray while the patient lies facedown. The patient will remain awake and under local anesthetic, this way they can provide feedback as the procedure proceeds. The patients vitals will be monitored closely. The X-ray will be used by the physician to guide the injection needle into the lower back. When the needle is positioned, a contrast solution will be used so that the region can be better observed through the X-ray and the steriod and anesthetic can be delivered as closely as possible to the affected cluneal nerve(s). The steriod will target the inflamed nerves while the anesthetic relieves the pain.
Most patients who receive a cluneal nerve block experience pain relief. Studies have shown even after a year, patients still are experiencing pain relief, making cluneal steriod injections a great long lasting treatment option.*
*Study shown at Colorado Pain: http://coloradopain.co/pain-treatments/interventional-procedures/cluneal-nerve-block/