A lumbar Sympathetic Block is performed to block the sympathetic nerves that go to the leg on the same side as the injection. This may in turn reduce pain, swelling, color changes, sweating and other unusual changes in the lower extremity; it may also improve mobility. Sympathetic nerves are located on both sides of your spine, in your low back. A steroid medication and local anesthetic injected into and around your sympathetic nerves can help reduce pain in that area. Injecting a small amount of local anesthetic on the lumbar sympathetic nerves can identify whether or not this pain is carried by the sympathetic nervous system.
A lumbar sympathetic block is used both as a diagnostic tool as well as treatment for conditions of the legs and trunk. In some instances, certain injuries to the lower extremities can cause a burning, unusual pain called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which lumbar sympathetic blocks are commonly utilized to treat. It is done as a part of the treatment of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Sympathetic Maintained Pain, Herpes Zoster (shingles), Phantom Limb Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy, and Peripheral Vascular Disease.
You will arrive in the procedure suite where you’ll lie face down on your stomach on an x-ray table. You low back will be cleansed. The doctor will insert a thin needle into your low back and inject a local anesthetic to numb the skin. Then, with x-ray guidance, a second needle will be inserted, and guided using the x-ray to the correct location. Next, contrast dye will be injected to confirm the location along the side of your spine. Local anesthetic and steroid will then be injected into the area of the lumbar sympathetic chain. Usually, the procedure takes less than 15 minutes, and you can go home the same day after being monitored in the recovery room for a short period of time. Injecting a small amount of local anesthetic on the lumbar sympathetic chain can identify whether or not this pain is carried by the sympathetic nervous system.