Lumbar Sympathetic Block
- “Every waking minute I am in agony. The doctor says the pain medication is supposed to allow me to function, but it does not reduce my pain. So my question is, how I’m I supposed to function if I am in so much pain? Having pain all the time is making me depressed. My friends and family members are shying away from me because of my attitude. They think I’m faking it. How is a person supposed to cope with this sort of thing?”
This is a brief synopsis of the way one individual described living with sciatica. If you are currently dealing with lower back pain and sciatica, it is likely that your circumstances are reflected in the above words.
Over the years, we have had the experience of working with many individuals battling with sciatica and lower back pain. We understand how this type of pain can disrupt your life, and we are committed to helping you find the appropriate pain management therapies that will allow you to live an active life again.
One therapy that has worked for many is a lumbar sympathetic block.
What is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block?
A lumbar sympathetic block is an injection of local anesthetic in the area surrounding the sympathetic nervous. Your sympathetic nerves are located on both sides of your spine in the lower back. These nerves are designed to control your body’s functions, like blood flow. However, in certain instances, the sympathetic nervous system can also carry pain information from peripheral tissues to the spinal cord.
How does a Lumbar Sympathetic Block Help?
A lumbar sympathetic block will block the flow of information from the nerves that go to the leg on the same side where the injections given. For many this leads to a reduction of pain. It can also minimize swelling, sweating, discoloration, and other unusual symptoms in the affected leg.
Lumbar sympathetic blocks may lead to increased leg mobility. It will take between 10 and 30 minutes to give the injection. The injection will consist of a mixture of a local anesthetic, steroid medication, epinephrine, or clonidine.
Is the Procedure Painful?
The procedure requires injecting a needle through your skin and deep the body tissues, so it will be painful. It is possible to numb the skin and tissue layers with a local anesthetic. Some patients opt for intravenous sedation, which makes the procedure easier to tolerate.
Sedation is not designed to render you unconscious. For some the sedation is enough that they may have amnesia and not remember the procedure.
How Is the Procedure Performed?
The procedure is performed with you lying on your stomach. Your blood levels and oxygen levels are monitored using an EKG machine. Probes for detecting temperature will be placed on your feet.
Doctors will clean the treated area with an antiseptic solution. Then a local anesthetic is applied to numb your skin. X-rays are used to direct the needle to the proper location. Once a test is done to confirm that the injected medicine will cover the appropriate area, the anesthetic will be injected in a controlled way over the course of a few minutes.
X-rays will be used to evaluate how the medication spreads throughout your back. Once a large enough area has been covered, the needle is removed and a small Band-Aid is applied.
What to Expect after the Treatment
After the treatment, you may notice that your leg is a little warm. This is normal. You should have a drastic reduction, if not a complete elimination, of your pain. In some cases you will experience a temporary weakness or a temporary numbing in the leg that is treated.
In the first few days following treatment, it is recommended that you rest and allow your body to adapt to the medication. After a couple of days, you can go back to your routine, and you will probably begin some form of physical therapy.
You should expect the local anesthetic to wear off in a couple of hours. However, the lumbar sympathetic block should affect your nerves for multiple hours. Most patients experience relief that gets longer with each injection.
Is the Procedure Safe?
Yes, the procedure is safe. However, you have to spend some time recovering. Since it is a medical procedure, it is possible that you will experience some complications. The most common complication is soreness at the injection site.
Less common complications include bleeding, infection, and spinal block. Thankfully, complications of this type are very rare.
Your doctor will discuss any allergies you have, trouble bleeding, or medications that you are taking to determine if you are a candidate for lumbar sympathetic blocks. Individuals with heart disease or uncontrolled diabetes would not be good candidates for this procedure.
How We Can Help?
We are committed to a collaborative approach that means that we want to work hand-in-hand with you as we go about your pain management treatment. Our goal is to create a pain management treatment program that will leave you with the best possible outcome.
In order to accomplish this goal, we need to speak with you and learn about your pain. Only by listening to you will we be able to create an individualized pain management program that suits you. Something that we have learned in our years of experience is that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all pain management program. It must be tailored to our client’s individual needs for it to work.
When you walk into our clinic, you are going to be presented with a clear and transparent plan for addressing your pain. We understand that depending on the condition, finding an effective pain management technique can take time.
We will work with you every step of the way. We do not give up on our clients, and we do not doubt their pain or insinuate that they are hypochondriacs. We understand that all pain is real, and all pain can be managed.
Contact us today, and let us present you with a short-term and long-term treatment plan designed to get you back to living the life you deserve.