Watkins Medical Centre
Level 8, 225 Wickham Terrace,
Spring Hill QLD, 4000

All appointments
Phone: (07) 3831 7034

Diagnostic Blocks

Diagnosing the exact cause of pain in the spine is difficult. This is partly due to the fact that x-rays of the spine show abnormalities that don't hurt in some people (up to 30% of people who have have some form of disc degeneration or disc bulge have no spinal pain).  

Diagnostic blocks are often used to try and sort out if an abnormality seen on x-ray is really  the cause of pain. Sometimes multiple abnormalities are seen and a diagnostic block is used to try to distinguish which possible abnormality is the culprit.

Diagnostic blocks involve the injection of local anaesthetic and cortisone into a part of the spine that is a possible cause of pain. The main aim of the procedure is to see if the pain goes away with local anaesthetic.  Imagine that you have back pain and sciatica and you have two compressed nerves in your back. The idea is to determine  which of the two is of them is the cause of pain. if a diagnostic block gives good pain relief for the duration of the local anaesthetic then one can conclude that the nerve that was injected is the cause of pain.

Cortisone is also injected. This is a slow release preparation. This means that it works for about three weeks. Sometimes if the pain is caused by inflamation, cortisone (a drug with a powerful anti-inflamatory effect) can give longer term pain relief.

The important thing is to remember or record what happens to your pain for 4 - 5 hours after the injection. You must be able to determine if your pain has gone, or almost gone, during this time. If your pain is only present with activity you must try this activity while the local anaesthetic is working.