A lumbar sympathetic block seeks to provide relief to those patients who are having one or more complications in the body’s sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls the involuntary functions of the body, governing items such as body temperature, heart rate, and whether or not a blood vessel is constricted.
When this nervous system is acting irrationally, a patient can suffer an “over-activity” of these involuntary processes, leading to pain and other symptoms.
What will a Lumbar Sympathetic Block treat?
Lumbar sympathetic blocks can used to provide relief for any symptoms being caused by a problem with the sympathetic nerves. This block is for patients suffering from either Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), excessive sweating, pain lingering from shingles, or those suffering from phantom pains following a limb amputation. It also has applications for patients experiencing chronic hot flashes or discoloration of the skin.
How is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block performed?
A lumbar sympathetic block targets the bundle of sympathetic nerves that is located in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine. This allows for the treatment of symptomatic pain felt in the abdomen, the lower back, or in the legs.
A nerve block serves to introduce a numbing agent into the afflicted nerve with the goal of preventing it from transmitting signals of pain to the brain. Blocking a sympathetic nerve in this fashion can also stop it from causing the periods of over-activity, providing relief for involuntary actions.
To begin this procedure, the patient will be placed prone to provide the physician access to their spine. The injection sites will be sterilized and numbed with a local anesthetic, with the needles guided into the nerve clusters through the use of fluoroscopic imaging.
This is a technique using X-rays to create a real-time picture of where the needle is within the patient. Many physicians will opt to use a bilateral approach, which is the use of a needle on each side of the spine to ensure that the entire nerve cluster is numbed.
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks
Once the needles are placed within the nerve clusters, a combination of a numbing agent and steroid will be injected. The numbing agent serves to numb the nerves to provide relief, with the steroidal component extending the duration of relief offered by this block.
In many cases, only a small amount of each medication will be injected into the nerve groups at first. This is to see if the block will be effective for the patient, and is known as a diagnostic lumbar sympathetic block.
If the diagnostic block is successful in providing relief, the injection will be repeated with a much larger dose of medication injected. This is known as a therapeutic lumbar sympathetic block and is the tool used to provide relief for the patient for an extended duration of time.
How well do Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks work?
Assuming that the needles are placed accurately prior to injection, the effects of the block will be felt immediately by the patient. Patients undergoing this block for phantom limb pains report being able to feel a sense of fullness almost immediately. The effects of a therapeutic block can last for months at a time, and the block itself is able to be repeated as often as required to maintain relief for the patient.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Lumbar Sympathetic Block, contact Texas Pain Network today. The practice has several highly skilled San Antonio Board Certified pain management doctors providing expert treatments for RSD, CRPS, phantom limb pain and more.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!