Lumbar Sympathetic Block

Overview
This procedure is an injection that numbs branches
of nerves in your lower back. It helps doctors find
and treat a number of problems linked to these
nerves. Usually, a series of injections is needed to
treat a problem.


About the Sympathetic Nerves
The sympathetic nerves travel along both sides of
your spine. They are associated with a wide range
of functions that you don't consciously control.
These include your circulation, digestion and sweat
production.


Preparation
In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your
stomach or your side. You are given medicine to
make you feel relaxed. The skin and tissue at the
injection site is numbed.


Inserting the Needle
The physician inserts a needle and carefully guides
it to the sympathetic nerves. The physician typically
uses an x-ray device called a "fluoroscope." This
shows a video image of the needle's position.
Contrast dye may be injected to help confirm that
the needle is placed correctly.


Injecting the Medicine
Next, the physician injects medicine. It bathes the
nerves. It can numb the nerves and reduce
inflammation. If these nerves have been a source of
pain, the medicine can relieve it. The injection may
also provide other benefits, depending on your
needs.


End of Procedure
When the procedure is complete, the needle is
removed and the injection site is covered with a
bandage. You will be monitored for a brief time
before you are allowed to go home. After a lumbar
sympathetic block, many people experience leg
numbness or weakness. This is normal, and usually
lasts for only a few hours. You may need to return
for more injections in the future.

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