Lumbar Sympathetic Block

What is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?

Lumbar Sympathetic Block is an injection of local anesthetic in the “sympathetic nerve tissue”—the nerves which are a part of Sympathetic Nervous System. The nerves are located on the either side of spine, in the back.

What is the purpose of it?

The injection blocks the Sympathetic Nerves. This may in turn reduce pain, swelling, color, and sweating changes in the lower extremity and may improve mobility.

How long does the injection take?

The actual injection takes only a few minutes.

What is actually injected?

The injection consists of a local anesthetic (like lidocaine or bupivacaine).

Will the injection(s) hurt?

The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues (like a “tetanus shot”). So, there is some discomfort involved. However, we may numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle before inserting the actual block needle.

Will I be “put out” for this procedure?

No. This procedure is done under a local anesthesia.

How is the injection performed?

It is done with the patient lying on stomach. The patients are monitored with blood pressure cuff and blood oxygen-monitoring device. The skin on back is cleaned with antiseptic solution and then the injection is carried out. Fluoroscopy (x-rays) is used to guide the needle(s) in the proper position.

What should I expect after the injection?

Immediately after the injection, you may feel your lower extremity getting warm. In addition, you may notice that your pain may be gone or quite less. You may also notice some weakness and/or numbness in the leg—which is temporary.

What should I do after the procedure?

You should have a ride home. We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. Perform the activities as tolerated by you. Some of the patients may go for immediate physical therapy.

Can I go back to work the next day?

Unless there are complications, you should be able to return to your work the next day. The most common thing you may feel is soreness in the neck at the injection site.

Who should not have this injection?

If you are allergic to any of the medications to be injected, if you are on blood thinning medications (e.g. Coumadin®, Plavix®, Ticlid®), or if you have an active infection going on near the injection site, you should not have the injection.

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