Lumbar sympathetic block stops pain signals before they reach the brain

The sympathetic nerves radiate from the spine, carrying messages to the brain about bodily processes such as blood flow and digestion. When these nerves are compressed or affected by another condition, such as Raynaud’s syndrome or complex regional pain syndrome, they may signal pain and produce other symptoms such as swelling, discoloration and sweating in the lower body. A sympathetic block is an injection of steroid medication that stops the sympathetic nerves from communicating these pain signals, which may in turn minimize other symptoms.

What to expect from a sympathetic block procedure

In some cases, a lumbar sympathetic block results in pain relief. If it does not result in pain relief, it is still useful to your doctor as an indication of where your pain is, and is not, coming from.

Sympathetic block treatments are performed while you’re mildly sedated, meaning you’ll be awake but relaxed, lying on your belly. The doctor will numb the lumbar area and use X-ray technology to identify the area that needs treatment. A contrast dye is then injected into the spot to distinguish the area where the steroid injection goes in to block the pain.

It is common to need multiple sympathetic block procedures though it varies depending on your particular condition and how your body responds to the treatment.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.