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Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks at Winthrop-University Hospital

Lumbar sympathetic blocks are a non-surgical treatment used to block the sympathetic nerves which are a part of the sympathetic nervous system. To block these nerves, an injection of a local anesthetic (lidocaine or bupivacaine) and/or steroids is placed in the back on either side of the spine. The anesthetic may reduce pain and swelling in the lower extremity and may improve mobility.

How Is a Lumbar Sympathetic Block Performed?

The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues. The skin and tissues are numbed with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle before inserting the actual block needle. The local anesthetic wears off in a few hours. However, the blockade of sympathetic nerves may last for many more hours, days or weeks. Usually relief time gets longer after each lumbar sympathetic block. If there is a response to the first injection, repeat injections are recommended. For most patients, a series of injections is needed to treat the problem. Some will need only two to four and some may need more than 10. Response varies from patient to patient.