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Your sympathetic nerves run along the surface of your lower spinal column. They are a part of your autonomic nervous system that controls involuntary functions like the flow of blood or body temperature. Sometimes these nerves pass pain information to your central nervous system resulting in spinal or leg pain (sciatica).

What happens during lumbar sympathetic blocks?

Lumbar sympathetic blocks take 10 – 30 minutes. They are done using local anaesthetic with light sedation.

You will lie on your side or stomach. An assistant may spray an antiseptic solution on your back which is very cold. Using a very fine needle they will insert local anaesthetic into the area to numb it before the block needle is inserted. Using an x-ray they will guide the block needle(s) into position. A test dose of dye will be inserted to confirm the medication will flow into the painful area(s). If the test area is correct an anaesthetic will be slowly inserted. Sometimes a steroid is also injected to enhance the effect of the anaesthetic. Your consultant will use the x-ray to confirm the flow of medication and that the area is covered. The block needle is withdrawn and a plaster may be applied to the injection site(s).

After lumbar sympathetic blocks

Immediately after your injection(s) you may feel your lower body getting warm. Your pain may be gone or have decreased. Sometimes patients experience numbness or weakness in their legs.

You will be able to go home the day of your procedure however you will not be able to drive. Please arrange for someone to take you home.

You should rest and avoid strenuous activity for a day or two following your block. You may be able to return to work the day after your procedure. Please discuss this with your consultant.

The local anaesthetic should wear off within hours. The site of your injection(s) may be sore. This should ease quickly.

The actual block may last for many hours. Patients who respond to blocks may be candidates for repeat blocks. Usually a series of blocks is needed to treat the problem. In most cases the duration of relief increases with each injection.

It is not possible to predict how you will respond to lumbar sympathetic blocks. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your consultant.

Complications from lumbar sympathetic blocks are rare but could include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Increase pain
  • Spinal block
  • Injection into wrong area

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?

Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
Overall rating View rating

Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good

Warren Road, Brighton, BN2 6DX

01273 624 488
Overall rating Good

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
Overall rating Good

4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF

01223 370 922
Overall rating Outstanding
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good

78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB

01243 530600
Overall rating Good

Rykneld Road, Derby, DE23 4SN

01332 540100
Overall rating Good

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 276 591
Overall rating Good

Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF

01483 555 800
Overall rating Good
Haywards Heath  

Burrell Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1UD

01444 456999
Overall rating Good

Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DF

01432 355 131
Overall rating Good

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

0113 388 2111
Overall rating Outstanding

Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY

0116 276 9401
Overall rating Good
North Staffordshire  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 4DB

01782 382551
Overall rating Good

Longden Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 9DP

01743 282 500
Overall rating Good

Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286 991
Overall rating Good
Tunbridge Wells  

Kingswood Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4UL

01892 531 111
Overall rating Good

The Chase, Old Milverton Lane, Leamington Spa, CV32 6RW

01926 427971
Overall rating Good

Haxby Road, York, YO31 8TA

01904 715 000
Overall rating Good

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