FAQs on Sympathetic Blocks
What is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?
A lumbar sympathetic block is used to provide relief to those patients experiencing complications with the sympathetic nervous system of the body. This cluster of nerves is located in the lumbar region of the spine and serves to control the involuntary actions of the body.
The block is commonly given to provide relief for those patients who are experiencing an “over activity” of this nervous system, resulting in a cycle of forced activity and pain.
What will a Lumbar Sympathetic Block treat?
The lumbar sympathetic block is administered to any patient suffering from a condition related to the sympathetic nervous system. The block is commonly given to those suffering from either Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The block also has applications for those patients suffering from phantom pains following an amputation, pain from lingering effects of shingles, excessive sweating, and certain vasospastic and vascular diseases.
How is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block performed?
The site of the injection is based on the symptoms of the patient, as there are two separate nerve clusters that control the sympathetic nervous system. One of these clusters is located in the neck, with multiple groups located in the lumbar back. A lumbar sympathetic block is used to treat pain felt in the lower body, with a focus on abdominal pain and pain in the buttocks, thighs, and legs.
The injection procedure itself will be similar to how other injections are performed. The injection site will be sterilized then numbed with a local anesthetic. Once numbed, a needle will be inserted through the skin and into the sympathetic nerve cluster in order to deliver a numbing agent into the nerves. This serves to stop the nerves from sending signals of pain to the brain, which can provide relief for the symptomatic pains the patient was experiencing.
What is the most common method?
Many physicians opt to use a bilateral approach (a needle on each side of the nerve group) guided by fluoroscopy (a series of X-rays taken to create a real-time image of where the needles are within the body) in order to ensure both accurate placement of the needles and complete delivery of the numbing agent. In many cases, this procedure will take no more than 30 minutes of the patient’s time while serving to provide relief immediately in many cases.
How well do Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks work?
Assuming that the needles were placed correctly, the vast majority of patients undergoing this procedure are able to obtain some degree of relief from it. Those patients who are suffering from phantom limb pains report a feeling of limb fullness directly after injection. Patients undergoing this block due to temperature fluctuations are often able to detect a noticeable drop in their body temperature before even leaving the clinical office.
What are the risks of a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?
There is very little risk associate with this procedure. There is the standard minimal risk of infection, swelling, bleeding, or pain at the injection site. There is the possibility of allergic reaction to the agents used, but patients are normally monitored following their injection to ensure there is no adverse reaction to the treatment.
There is a very rare chance of the needle being misplaced, potentially piercing a blood vessel or leading to the injection of the anesthetic into a different area of the body. The largest risk with this treatment is that it simply may not work for every patient.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS SUFFERING FROM WHAT YOU SUSPECT IS RSD OR CRPS, CALL COLORADO PAIN. IT’S OFTEN NOT JUST ONE PAIN MANAGEMENT TREATMENT FOR THESE CONDITIONS THAT IS MOST EFFECTIVE. A LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK MAY OFFER SUBSTANTIAL PAIN RELIEF AND CHANGE A PERSON’S LIFE.
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