Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block
The sympathetic nerves are a group of nerves and nerve ganglia found along the anterolateral portions of the spinal column. They are part of the autonomic nervous system and control many bodily functions including sweating, heart rate, digestion, blood pressure and pain. Sometimes these nerves can continue to transmit pain following an injury even after the injury has healed. This can result in a condition known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Symptoms of CRPS include severe burning pain, swelling, and skin color changes.
A lumbar sympathetic nerve block is a special procedure to help the pain specialist find the cause of your symptoms. During the test, an anesthetic (numbing medicine) is injected near your spine. This “blocks” the sympathetic nerves in that region. If these nerves are causing your symptoms, the injection may offer relief for an extended period, immediately after the procedure. If effective, your doctor may recommend a series of these blocks 1-2 weeks apart which may help afford you a more sustained long term pain relief.
Lumbar sympathetic nerve blocks are almost always performed as part of a comprehensive pain management program.