Lumbar Sympathetic Block

This procedure is performed to relieve leg pain caused by complex regional pain syndromes, which may develop after an injury to a joint or limb. Usually a series of injections are needed to treat the problem.

How is the procedure done?

Patients lie either on their side or stomach on a table equipped with a special x-ray (fluoroscopic) unit, and an intravenous (IV) line is started to administer medication to relax the patient. A local anesthetic numbs the skin and tissue down to the sympathetic nerves. The physician slides a needle through the anesthetized track. The physician uses a fluoroscope to identify the painful areas to confirm the correct location of the needle tip.

Next, a mixture of anesthetic, saline and anti-inflammatory medicine is injected around the sympathetic nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. The legs may feel week or numb for a few hours after the procedure. Then, pain from the legs should improve. More blocks may be repeated about once a week until the pain subsides. Patients who are on blood-thinning medications or who have an infection near the injection site should not receive the block.

What are the risks?

This procedure has very few risks. As with most invasive procedures there is a risk of infection, bleeding and allergic reactions to the medications used. Serious side effects and complications are uncommon.

Will the injection hurt?

Many people experience a little stinging at the local anesthetic injection site, although each patient’s experience will vary. Some people experience pressure when the medicine is being injected into the body.

How will I feel after the injection?

After your injection, you may feel your lower extremities becoming warm. You may notice your pain may diminishing considerably. This is normal.

Will I have any restrictions on the day of the procedure?

It is recommended that the patient be driven to and from the appointment for a cervical epidural steroid injection. The patient should do as little as possible following the procedure. We do recommend that the patient take it easy for a few days after the injection.

When should I call my doctor?

If you have severe back pain, new numbness or weakness in your legs, or signs of infection at the injection site (redness, swelling or bleeding), you should contact us right away.