The lumbar sympathetic chain is a bundle of nerves that live in front of the lumbar spine and contains nerve fibers that supply signals to and from the lower extremities. Patients who experience leg pain due to conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, vascular insufficiency, and shingle may benefit from an injection that not only provides relief, but also provides the physician with important diagnostic information about the source of your pain as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I find out if I am a candidate for a lumbar sympathetic block?
During your visit, your physician will want to discuss your medical history and symptoms, then review any available imaging and perform a physical examination as well. Keep in mind that lumbar sympathetic blocks are not always a cure for the condition causing your pain, but rather a means of managing your pain and discomfort to improve your overall quality of life.
What should I expect during a lumbar sympathetic block?
Lumbar sympathetic blocks are typically performed with the use of a local anesthetic, much like what you’d receive from a dentist while getting a cavity filled. However, some patients prefer IV sedation as well. Once you are comfortable, the doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the skin. Then, with x-ray guidance, the doctor will insert a thin needle into your mid-back and inject local anesthetic for comfort.
Once the needle is properly placed in the desired position, the doctor will inject anesthetic around the anatomical area where the bundle of nerves is typically located. Usually, the procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and you can go home the same day.
What types of results can I expect after undergoing a lumbar sympathetic block?
Many patients report immediate relief following the procedure due to the anesthetic medication used during the injection. Occasionally patients may complain of soreness for 1-2 days following the procedure. Some patients may need a course of injections to obtain the desired level of pain relief.