Lumbar Sympathetic Block

This procedure is an injection that numbs branches of nerves in your lower back which helps doctors find and treat a number of problems linked to these nerves. The sympathetic nerves travel along both sides of your spine and are associated with a wide range of functions that you don’t consciously control including circulation, digestion and sweat production. In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your stomach or your side and are given mild sedative to make you feel relaxed. After the skin and tissue at the injection site is numbed, the physician inserts a needle and carefully guides it to the sympathetic nerves. The physician typically uses a fluoroscope (a video x-ray) which shows the physician a video image of the needle’s position. Contrast dye may be injected to help confirm that the needle is placed correctly. The medicine that the physician injects numbs the nerves and reduces inflammation. If these nerves have been a source of pain, the medicine can relieve it. When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed and the injection site is covered with a bandage. You will be monitored for a brief time before you are allowed to go home. After a lumbar sympathetic block, many people experience leg numbness or weakness which is normal and usually lasts for only a few hours. Note that you may need to return for more injections in the future. Your PCA physician will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan.