FAQ’s on Lumbar sympathetic Block
The sympathetic nervous system of the body controls involuntary actions and responses in the patient, and is located within the lumbar region spinal column (the lower back). Heart rate, control the blood vessels, and temperature of the body are among the bodily functions that the sympathetic nervous system controls.
A lumbar sympathetic block is a procedure in which a mixture of local anesthetic and other pain relieving drugs is injected into the sympathetic nerve located on either side of the spine in the lower back (lumbar region).
A Lumbar Sympathetic Block is performed to provide relief and increase mobility in patients suffering from chronic pain for a number of conditions affecting the lower extremities. An overactivity of the lumbar nerve cluster may cause patients to experience cycles of unconscious activity with resulting symptomatic pain.
How is the Lumbar Sympathetic Block procedure performed?
With two sympathetic nerve clusters along the spine that can be the root cause of the complications, or multiple clusters in the lumbar region, or one main cluster in the cervical region, the physician will determine what area that would be the most beneficial and effective treatment of the displayed symptoms and pain for the patient.
Depending on the block required, the Lumbar Sympathetic Block is performed under local anesthetic with the patient sedated but conscious. An EKG, 02 monitor and a blood pressure cuff is used to monitor the patient’s vital signs. Dye is first introduced into the injection site to ensure proper placement of the needle prior to injection the pain relieving medications. An x-ray machine called a fluoroscope is used to guide the needle. In many cases a bilateral approach is used with two needles, each being placed on either side of the spine to distribute the numbing agent more effectively into the nerve cluster.
The entire procedure generally takes about thirty minutes.
How long do the injections last?
Relief felt varies with each patient but generally relief will be felt. There may be temporary pain relief from the local anesthetic and the drugs injected may require several injections before full benefit is experienced. Relief typically is provided from several days to several weeks, depending on how well the patient responds.
Usually the effects of the block are felt immediately by a reduction of pain and symptoms of the patient. If the patient is receiving this block as a treatment for constricted blood vessels, there may be a slight rise in temperature. If the patient is receiving this block for the pain associated with phantom amputation, it was reported they are able to obtain a feeling of limb completion as soon as the numbing agent takes effect.
What are the risks or side effects of a Lumbar Sympathetic Block procedure?
As with any medical procedure there are some risks and potential side effects, but generally the procedure is safe. Some side effects may include slight bleeding or minor bruising at the injection site, or temporary pain and soreness. More serious side effects can include infection, nerve damage, or even paralysis. This is rare in a very small chance. If the needle is placed incorrectly, the possibility of unwanted blocking of additional nerves may occur.
Lumbar Sympathetic Block is used to treat Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), which is a chronic neurological syndrome characterized by a severe burning pain, tissue swelling, sensitivity to touch, excessive swelling and sweating. It may also be used to treat Sympathetic Maintained Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Herpes Zoster (shingles) involving the legs, which are also forms of neuropathic pain syndrome.
How successful is the Lumbar Sympathetic Block for the relief of pain?
Success of the Lumbar Sympathetic Block procedure varies with the individual but generally the patient will experience immediate relief with this simple procedure.
If you or a loved one is suffering from what you suspect is RSD or CRPS, call a San Diego pain clinic today in the California Pain Network. It\’s often not just one pain management treatment for these conditions that is most effective. A lumbar sympathetic block may offer substantial pain relief and change a person\’s life.
Call (619) 500-1573 for help today!