What is a lumbar sympathetic block?
A lumbar sympathetic block is an injection of medication that helps relieve lower back or leg pain (sciatica). It can be used to treat:
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Herpes zoster infection (shingles) involving the legs
- Vascular insufficiency
- Peripheral neuropathy
Sympathetic nerves are located on both sides of your spine, in your lower back. A steroid medication and local anesthetic injected into or around your sympathetic nerves can help reduce pain in that area.
How effective is a lumbar sympathetic block?
Some patients report pain relief immediately after the injection, but the pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Longer term relief usually begins in two to three days, once the steroid begins to work.
Usually people need a series of injections to continue the pain relief. Sometimes it takes only two injections; sometimes it takes more than 10.