Lumbar Sympathetic Block


The lumbar sympathetic block is injected into the spine to block pain signals being sent from sympathetic nerves to the legs causing symptoms such as tingling, weakness, or shooting pain. The injection contains a steroid and anesthetic solution. The procedure lasts approximately 15-20 minutes.


In this procedure, the patient lies on the stomach and is given a local anesthetic to numb the lower back. Next, the physician uses a fluoroscope to confirm that the injection solution is making its way to the correct location in the lumbar spine. A contrast dye is also injected that is specifically made to light upon the physician's fluoroscope monitor. After confirming the location, the physician injects a solution of anti-inflammatory medication and anesthesia. Finally, the patient is bandaged and released with post-operative instructions for rest at home.

This procedure’s primary purpose is to treat pain, but it is also sometimes administered for diagnostic purposes. When the patient experiences pain relief following the procedure, the physician can then confirm that the pain is coming from the sympathetic nerves in the lumbar spine.

After Care

After a lumbar sympathetic block, many patients feel comfortable returning to work the next day and resuming normal daily activities. However, the patient’s low back area may become increasingly sore and tender as the anesthesia wears off. Patients may want to rest for at least 24 hours before returning to certain activities. Pain relief should be felt within 3-7 days of the initial injection. The lumbar sympathetic block is not a cure for sciatica or other types of neuropathic pain. The results from this injection vary from patient to patient, but following the procedure, patients may experience relief for several months. The procedure can be repeated once the effects of the treatment wear off.