FAQ’s on Lumbar Sympathetic Block in Las Vegas NV

A lumbar sympathetic block is used to interrupt pain signals derived from the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nerves lie along the anterior aspect of the spine, and they control various body functions, such as blood pressure, sweating, heart rate, and digestion.

What conditions can be treated using the lumbar sympathetic nerve block?

The lumbar sympathetic block is often used for chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which affects one of the lower extremities. With this condition, pain signals are transmitted for an extended length of time after an injury or condition has healed. The block is also used to treat diabetic neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, and chronic foot or leg pain.

How many lumbar sympathetic blocks are necessary?

The number of lumbar sympathetic blocks you require must be determined by the pain management specialist. This often depends on the severity of the condition, other treatment options available, and your current state of health. The doctor often recommends a series of three injections for maximum benefits.

How do I prepare for the lumbar sympathetic block?

Before the procedure, a nurse will go over the procedure pros and cons, and have you sign a consent form. Do not eat or drink after midnight, and bring someone to drive you home. Make sure the doctor is aware of all your medications, as blood-thinning agents must be held for several days beforehand. When you arrive at the medical facility, a nurse will have you change into a gown and start an IV in your arm. Monitors are attach to assess blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart rate.

What can I expect during the lumbar sympathetic block procedure?

The nurse will administer a mild sedative and fluids during through the IV line. You will be positioned face-down on the table, using pillows under the hips. The lower back skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and the doctor numbs the region with an anesthetic. The procedure needle is guided near the nerves using real-time x-ray, and medication is instilled onto the nerves.

What are the complications and risk associated with the lumbar sympathetic block?

As with all minimally invasive surgeries, a few risks must be considered. While these rarely occur, complications include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and blood vessel injury. To eliminate risks, blood-thinners are held (Coumadin and Plavix), and the procedure is not performed if blood sugar is poorly control, the patient has an active infection, or when fever is present.

What should I expect after the procedure?

When the procedure is over, a nurse will monitor your condition for around 30 minutes. We recommend that you rest for the remainder of the day, and gradually return to activities after a day or two. Soreness at the injection site is common, so use an ice pack to relieve the pain. Avoid soaking in a hot tub or pool for a few days, and do not drive for at least 24 hours.

Is the lumbar sympathetic block effective?

According to recent research studies, the lumbar sympathetic block has an 80% success rate. Researchers have found evidence to support the use of this block for CRPS and neuropathic pain.

Resources

Riew KD, Park JB, Cho YS, et al. (2006). Nerve root blocks in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain. A minimum five-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 88(8):1722-1725.

Tei Y, Morita T, Nakaho T, Takigawa C, Higuchi A, et al. (2008). Treatment efficacy of neural blockade in specialized palliative care services in Japan: a multicenter audit survey. Pain.