01 Aug What You Should Know About the Lumbar Sympathetic Block
Do you suffer from any form of lumbar pain? Do you live in the greater Dallas area? If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, we invite you to learn more about the lumbar sympathetic block. It is a fairly straightforward and safe procedure we offer here in our Weatherford pain clinic.
The lumbar sympathetic block is an injection therapy intended to reduce both inflammation and pain. The injected medicine includes an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and a pain reducing anesthetic.
Appropriate Conditions for Treatment
Due to the nature of the lumbar sympathetic block, it is only appropriate as a treatment for certain conditions. Lower back pain is one of them. But there are other conditions as well:
- Shingles (involving leg pain)
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Certain types of vascular pain.
The block works by addressing the sympathetic nerves that run along both sides of your spine in the region of the lower back. Sympathetic nerves are so named because they respond to stimuli, especially in stressful or dangerous situations. They are ‘sympathetic’ to the stress your body is experiencing.
An Outpatient Procedure
As previously stated, the procedure is fairly straightforward and perfectly safe. It is an outpatient procedure that generally takes less than 30 minutes to complete. We perform the procedure here in our clinic.
This is an injection therapy, so be aware of that if you are uncomfortable with needles. Know that we begin the procedure by giving a medicine that helps you relax. Furthermore, the tissue surrounding the injection site is numbed with a local anesthetic to relieve your discomfort.
A Precision Procedure
You should also know that the lumbar sympathetic block is considered a precision procedure. What does that mean? It means that the doctor who performs the procedure relies on the precision of the injection to achieve maximum pain relief. To achieve that precision, the doctor depends on fluoroscopy.
A fluoroscope is a type of x-ray machine that allows the doctor to see needle placement clearly. They use the fluoroscope to place the needle in the most appropriate position. If necessary, they may inject a contrast dye in order to see things more clearly. Once the needle is placed correctly, medicine is injected to bathe the affected nerves.
After the Procedure
Patients feel immediate relief once the medicine begins doing its thing. However, there are two minor side effects common to lumbar sympathetic block:
- Injection Site Pain – As with all injections, patients can feel pain at the injection site. The pain can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.
- Weakness and Numbness – Some patients experience temporary weakness and numbness in the leg. This side effect rarely lasts more than a few hours.
Lumbar sympathetic block is safe and has no known serious side effects. The risk of infection is there, but that is a risk associated with all injections. You are at no higher risk for this particular procedure.
As a general rule, we like to monitor patients for at least a little while following the procedure. Once our staff is comfortable with your condition, you will be free to go home. Your doctor will give you instructions about how to take care yourself over the next several days. Note that you might need multiple injections to achieve the desired level of pain relief.
If you believe you could benefit from lumbar sympathetic block, make an appointment to see one of our doctors. As experts in pain relief, we can help you determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.