WHAT IT IS?
Dense networks of nerves referred to as “ganglions” are where your sympathetic nerves come together outside your spine area. Lumbar sympathetic nerve block procedures are done to treat pain for a wide range of conditions. Where along your spine an injection is made is determined by where you are experiencing pain. For example, if you are suffering from upper body pain, blocking the stellate ganglion in your neck area could provide needed relief. Many physicians specializing in treatments for pain believe that lumbar sympathetic blocks effectively help to manage chronic pain.
WHAT PAINFUL CONDITIONS CAN BE RELIEVED WITH A LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK?
Due to associations with the nerves in the sympathetic nervous system, a lumbar sympathetic block is often used to diagnose or treat the following painful conditions:
- Herpes zoster, also known as “shingles,” involving the legs
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
- Pain caused by spasms in the blood vessels
- Sympathetic maintained pain
- Certain types of chronic stomach pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome, previously referred to as “reflex sympathetic dystrophy”
- Excessive sweating
- Peripheral vascular disease
IS A LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK A PAINFUL PROCEDURE?
Because a lumbar sympathetic block involves the insertion of a needle though skin as well as deep tissues, some pain is involved. Your physician may, however, administer a local anesthetic using a very thin needle first, to numb the entire area where the block needle will be inserted. In order to make the procedure more tolerable, most patients also receive intravenous sedation.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER A LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK PROCEDURE
Following your lumbar sympathetic block procedure, you should have a ride to take you home. Patients are advised to rest for a day or so afterwards, performing only activities that can be tolerated. Barring any complications, it is usually possible to return to work the next day.