Spinal Injections 101 – Lumbar Sympathetic Block

Category: Injections | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block

When a person is dealing with back pain, oftentimes they imagine that there are only a couple ways to treat the pain. Some people are told that rest and physical therapy will be their best bets, while others assume only surgery will cure their pain. However, there is another type of treatment that can provide temporary relief to your back pain. We’re talking, of course, about injections. Over the next couple months, we’re going to explain some of the more common injections we perform, why they are beneficial, and how they can help provide relief. Today, we look at lumbar sympathetic blocks.

The Purpose of Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks

A lumbar sympathetic block, as the name implies, is an injection in the lumbar portion of a person’s back directed into or around the sympathetic nerves. These nerves are located on either side of your spine in the lower portion of your back, and their purpose is to regulate basic functions in the spine, like maintaining adequate blood flow in the region. Sometimes these nerves can also carry pain information from the outer tissues back to the spinal cord.

The goal of a lumbar sympathetic block is to block pain or problems that are the result of an issue with the lumbar sympathetic nerves that travel to the leg on the same side of the body. So if you’re dealing with shooting pain or decreased mobility in your right leg, you may benefit from a lumbar sympathetic nerve injection to those nerves on the right side of your body. Oftentimes the injection is used to treat pain and problems associated with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in the area.

FAQ’s About Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Blocks

Here’s are some answers to common questions about the lumbar sympathetic nerve injection:

How long does a lumbar sympathetic block injection take?

A lumbar sympathetic nerve block can usually be administered in 10-30 minutes.

What is in a lumbar sympathetic nerve block injection?

The injection consists mainly of a local anesthetic, and it is sometimes combined with epinephrine or a steroid medication to prolong the numbing effects of the injection.

Does a lumbar sympathetic injection hurt?

The injection is placed through the skin and into deeper tissues, so while there will be some pain, most patients report only minor or mild issues. If your doctor is concerned about causing pain, intravenous sedation may be used to dull the sensation of the injection.

How is a lumbar sympathetic injection performed?

The injection is performed with the patient lying on their stomach. The surgeon will disinfect the injection site and use an X-ray to guide the needle into the specific location. Once the surgeon has confirmed the needle is in the correct location, the anesthetic is released over the course of a couple of minutes. The surgeon will confirm that the injection has covered the appropriate area, remove the needle and cover the injection site with a band-aid.

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