LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK
LOWER BACK PAIN DOCTOR
Back Pain Relief
The Pain Relief Center in Plano, Texas offers Lumbar Sympathetic Block Injections for lower back pain relief. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?
A lumbar sympathetic block is an injection of local anesthetic into or around the sympathetic nerve tissue of the lower back. These sympathetic nerves are a part of the sympathetic nervous system. The nerves are located on either side of the spine, in the lower back. Normally these nerves control basic functions like regulating blood flow. In certain conditions, these sympathetic nerves can carry pain information from the peripheral tissues back to the spinal cord. The lumbar sympathetic block injection is usually employed as a diagnostic tool to determine whether or not damage to the sympathetic nerve chain is the source of the pain a patient is experiencing.
Usually, the sympathetic nerves function to control and regulate basic bodily functions such as blood flow, digestion and sweating. However, sometimes a malfunction can cause these nerves to carry pain signals from the peripheral tissues back to the spinal cord. Disorder in the lumbar sympathetic nerves can cause pain in the lower back, legs and feet. Weakness in the legs is another sign that sympathetic nerve malfunction may be occurring in the lower region of the spine.
How is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block Done?
A lumbar sympathetic block basically “turns off” the sympathetic nervous system in the area causing pain in hopes of identifying or eliminating the pain. If painful symptoms are significantly diminished after the nerve block is performed, then a diagnosis of sympathetically mediated pain is usually established.
The procedure is done with the patient lying on stomach. The patients are monitored with EKG, blood pressure cuff and an oxygen-monitoring device. Temperature sensing probes may also be placed on your feet. The lumbar sympathetic block is performed under sterile conditions. The skin on back is cleaned with antiseptic solution and the skin is then numbed with a local anesthetic. Then X-ray is used to guide the needle or needles into the proper position along the outside of the spine. Once in place, a test dose of dye is used to confirm that the injected medication will spread in an appropriate area. If this is okay, the injection takes place gradually over several minutes. The physician will use the X-ray to evaluate the spread of the injected medication. When a sufficient area is covered, the injection will be over. When done, the needle is removed and a Band Aid is applied.
After the procedure, the patient is instructed to move the affected area to see if the usual pain is provoked. It is normal to experience a feeling of warmness in the lower extremities. Most patients are advised to take it easy for the first day and perform low impact activities that they can tolerate.
What should I expect from a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?
Prior to the procedure, the skin over the injection site will be cleansed and a numbing agent will be applied to decrease pain or discomfort from the injection. You may also receive sedation to make the procedure go more smoothly.
While the local anesthetic usually wears off in a few hours, the blockade of sympathetic nerves may last significantly longer. If you respond to the first injection, you will be recommended for repeat injections. Usually, a series of such injections is needed to treat the problem. Some may need only 2 to 4 and some may need more than 10. The response to such injections varies from patient to patient, and depends on your specific condition. Due to this variation, it is difficult to predict the efficiency of a lumbar epidural steroid injection. However, patients in the early stages of their respective conditions may respond better than those who have been experiencing symptoms for a longer period of time.