Lumbar Sympathetic Block

The Lumbar Sympathetic Block injection is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat chronic pain that originates from sympathetic nerves located in the lumbar region (lower back). The patient is given an injection of a mixture of local anesthetic and a corticosteroid.


What conditions are treatable with the Lumbar Sympathetic Block?

The Lumbar Sympathetic Block can be used to help patients suffering from chronic pain stemming from:

  • Sympathetic Maintained Pain
  • Neuropathy or peripheral vascular disease
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles) when it affects the legs
  • Cancer lymphedema

The injections are intended to relieve pain and swelling caused by these conditions.


What can the patient expect when they receive the Lumbar Sympathetic Block?

The Lumbar Sympathetic Block injection is a safe, low risk, minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Most patients have a reasonable expectation to experience relief from their chronic pain when they receive the Lumbar Sympathetic Block resulting from correct diagnosis.

Many patients find immediate relief during the procedure from the local anesthetic, this typically wears off in a few hours though and then it can take a few days before the steroid medications take full effect. At this point they will typically experience a longer lasting relief.


How is the Lumbar Sympathetic Block performed?

The patient will be placed on an exam table face down and their vital signs will be monitored. The area to be injected will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then numbed with a topical anesthetic.

A needle will be inserted with the aid of a fluoroscope to insure proper placement. Once the needle is in place contrast dye is injected to assure the correct nerves are being treated. At this time the medications, a mixture of a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid will be slowly injected.

After the injection is completed the patient will be moved to an observation area to be monitored for adverse reactions from the medications. The entire process takes about an hour.


How long do the effects from the Lumbar Sympathetic Block last?

Different patients react differently to the medications, for most people there will be immediate relief from the local anesthetic but this is of short duration and will subside after a few hours. It may take a few days for the steroid to take effect and then relief may be experienced for several weeks to several months or even as long as a year after multiple treatments.


What risk or side effects are associated with the Lumbar Sympathetic Block?

Risks and side effects are minimal, there is the chance of slight swelling and bruising at the injection site and there will be just a few drops of blood. The risk of infection is very minimal as long as the injection site is kept clean and dry for the few days it takes to heal.

After prolonged steroid use in the same area the tissue can deteriorate and there is a very low risk of nerve damage if the needle strikes a nerve. But the fluoroscope guidance minimizes this risk.


How successful is the treatment for the relief of pain?

The Lumbar Sympathetic Block is a very effective method of treating chronic pain associated with the sympathetic nerves.


What is the bottom line on this treatment?

The bottom line is that if you are experiencing chronic pain caused by the sympathetic nerves this procedure will most likely provide relief. To find out if the treatment is right for you discuss your symptoms with your Chicago pain management specialist at PPS.

Lumbar Sympathetic Block Pain Treatment in Chicago

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