The sympathetic nerves are part of the autonomic nervous system that control involuntary bodily functions such as sweating, blood pressure, digestion and heart rate.
These nerves are located along the front side of the spinal column and can be responsible for transmitting pain caused by an injury.
A Lumbar Sympathetic Block involves injecting an anesthetic and/or steroid medication around the sympathetic nerves located in lumbar region to block pain signals from reaching the brain. The procedure can also be used to help diagnose the cause of your pain symptoms.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under sedation for your comfort and usually takes between 15 to 20 minutes. While lying on your side or stomach, the skin around the injection site is cleaned and numbed with anesthetic. Your physician uses a fluoroscopic X-ray machine to help guide the needle to the targeted area around the sympathetic nerves.
Steroid medications work by decreasing the inflammation that is causing the pain. The medication is injected and the needle is removed.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes as you recover from the sedation. You will need someone to drive you home. Your pain may return as the anesthetic wears off while the steroid medication takes 24 to 48 hours to begin to relieve the pain. The effects of the injections vary from patient to patient, but can last several months or longer. If effective, the procedure can usually be repeated.