A lumbar sympathetic nerve block injection delivers local anesthetic into the “sympathetic nerve tissue”. The nerves, which are part of the sympathetic nervous system, are located in the back, on either side of the spine.

The injection blocks the sympathetic nerves in order to reduce pain, swelling, color and sweating changes in the lower extremities. It may also improve mobility. Lumbar injections are often part of a treatment plan for:

  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Sympathetic Maintained Pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles)
  • Vascular Insufficiency
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • The injection, which takes only a few minutes, consists of a local anesthetic (like lidocaine or bupivacine), Epinephrine (adrenaline), and steroids.

    What to Expect During a Lumbar Sympathetic Block
    To perform the injection, your physician will ask you to lie on your stomach with pillows under your hips. He or she will monitor you with an EKG, a blood pressure cuff, and a blood oxygen-monitoring device. You may also have temperature sensing probes placed at your feet.

    Your physician will then clean the skin on your back with antiseptic solution and administer the injection. He or she will use a fluoroscopy (a special type of x-ray) to guide the needle(s) into the proper position. You may feel some discomfort; however, we numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic before inserting the actual block needle.

    Immediately after the injection, you may notice that your lower extremity is getting warm. You may also notice some weakness and or numbness in your legs, which is temporary.

    How Many Injections Will You Need?
    If you experience pain relief after the first injection, we will recommend you return for repeat injections. You may need as few as 2 to 4 or you may need more than 10, as the response to injections varies. The duration of relief should get longer after each injection.

    What Are the Risk and Side Effects?
    Although the procedure is safe, there are risks, including the possibility of side effects and complications. Pain is the most common side effect, but is temporary. Other risks involve:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Spinal block, epidural block, and injection of local anesthetic directly into the blood vessels and surrounding organs.

    Fortunately, serious complications are uncommon.

  • You should not have this injection if:

  • You are allergic to any of the medications in the injection.
  • You are on blood thinning medications.
  • You have an active infection near the injection site.
  • Find out if lumbar sympathetic block injections are right for you. Call (770) 558-8501 to schedule an appointment with Southeastern Interventional Pain Associates today.