Because sympathetic nervous pain is not easily treated by pain medication, blocks are considered a very effective and beneficial treatment option.
A lumbar sympathetic block is an injection in the lower back performed by injecting a local anesthetic into a sympathetic ganglion which can be used to both diagnose and treat disorders of the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic chain is a series of nerves that carry pain signals to the lower extremities. When these nerves become irritated or injured, the blood supply is often affected, which can produce pain in the limbs.
First, the patient will be numbed using a local anesthetic. When the patient is satisfactorily numb, a needle is placed near the ganglion. A mixture of local anesthetic and a corticosteroid will be injected using fluoroscopic guidance to ensure proper needle placement. The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes, after which the physician will monitor the patient’s pain levels to see how effective the block was.
Following the injections, the patient may feel a warming sensation in the leg while the pain begins to decrease.
The procedure could block the sympathetic nerves indefinitely. However, the majority of the patients experience temporary relief. Upon each subsequent injection, the pain becomes less intense and less frequent, and less likely to return.
It is recommended to avoid strenuous exercises or heavy lifting for a day after the procedure. Patients usually can return to work the following day.