LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK
Despite of the name of this nervous system, when it causes pain to flare, the lumbar sympathetic nervous system feels like it anything but. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates the body’s unconscious actions. The lumbar sympathetic nerves are a part of this nervous system and can be found in the region of your lower back, running along the sides of the spine. Among the functions of the SNS is helping in the regulation of blood flow. But another important job of the SNS is to transport pain signals from areas of the body to the spinal cord. When the lumbar sympathetic nerves are damaged or malfunction, their natural purpose can instead cause severe or chronic pain.
REASONS TO CONSIDER A LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK
A lumbar sympathetic block can be used to treat a number of painful conditions including:
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy: a syndrome characterized by pain, swelling and dysfunction of an extremity such as an arm or leg. This condition is often the result of trauma or surgery.
- Sympathetically Maintained Pain: a disproportionate pain reaction by the body to an injury or trauma.
- Shingles: A reactivation of the chickenpox virus within the body which results in a severely painful rash.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Chronic arm or leg pain that follows circumstances such as injuries, surgeries, stroke, or heart attack.
- Early pain intervention with a lumbar sympathetic block offers the best results from this procedure. So the earlier the block is used after pain begins, the better.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK PROCEDURE
The lumbar sympathetic block is an outpatient procedure. Local anesthesia is used, as is an EKG during the treatment to help in observing the patient. Dr Neeraj Jain, M.D., will use an X-Ray in guiding the needle into the appropriate position around the spine. Once in place, medication is steadily administered with particular precision and care. After the procedure, the area of injection is covered with a Band-Aid.
Immediately after the lumbar sympathetic block, you should notice that pain is completely gone or considerably lessened. You might feel warmth in the trunk area or your legs.
Even though this procedure is done with a local anesthetic, we strongly advise that patients do not drive themselves home. So be sure to have a friend or relative accompany you. During the rest of the day, don’t overly exert yourself. Rest, recuperate and avoid any activity that can’t be done comfortably. Most patients feel fully recovered and ready to return to normal activities by the next day or so.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOUR LUMBAR SYMPATHETIC BLOCK
Lumbar sympathetic block treatments usually occur as a series of injection. Following the first one, the block should be effective for numerous hours. The pain block generally lasts longer with each successive treatment. Once the effects of the first injection are known, Dr. Jain will have a better idea as to how many repeat injections to recommend.
Every patient is unique regarding how many lumbar sympathetic block treatments may be required for maximum, long term benefits. Many people need as few as two or three treatments, while some might require ten or more.