A lumbar sympathetic block procedure is used to alleviate chronic pain in the lower back and legs. It is a safe and effective way to treat this type of pain and get you moving back like normal. While every patient’s reaction differs, you’ll typically experience some relief within a few hours after a lumbar sympathetic block procedure.

So what exactly is a lumbar sympathetic block? How does it work? How long does a treatment last? The pain management doctors at Southside Pain Specialists have the answers to all of these questions and more.

What is a lumbar sympathetic block?

A lumbar sympathetic block is an injection of anesthetic and occasionally steroid medication into the sympathetic nerves. These nerves are located in the lower back on both sides of the spine, which is why a lumbar sympathetic block treatment targets the lower extremities effectively.


How long does it take for a sympathetic nerve block to work?

Patients may experience immediate pain relief as a result of the local anesthetic used during the procedure. The nerve block typically takes effect in the following hours.

How long does a lumbar sympathetic block last?

Pain relief varies for every patient. Some may experience symptom relief for a few hours, while others a few days. Patients who receive a greater number of injections are likely to have prolonged relief. If the first sympathetic nerve block was successful, repeated procedures may be a good option for pain management.

What does a lumbar sympathetic block procedure include?

The total procedure time, beginning with patient prep and ending with recovery, is about one hour. This is an outpatient procedure, and we typically perform it at a pain clinic.

A lumbar sympathetic block procedure is completed in the following steps:

  • The patient will lay face-down on the table.
  • The pain management doctor will clean the injection site with an antiseptic solution.
  • Then, they will inject a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure. The patient may feel a pinch or slight pressure during this injection.
  • Next, using x-ray guidance, the doctor will guide a needle into the proper position along the spine. A contrast dye is injected to confirm accurate placement.
  • Finally, the mixture of anesthetic and pain medication is injected.

After completing the lumbar sympathetic injections, we monitor the patient for a brief period. This process ensures that there aren’t any serious side effects and that everything looks good for the patient.

What are the side effects of lumbar sympathetic injections?

There are very few risks associated with lumbar sympathetic injections. However, immediately following the procedure, patients may report weakness or numbness of the legs and lower back, a feeling of warmth at the injection site, or increased pain. These sensations are likely a result of the local anesthetic and tend to subside within a day.

More severe complications include nerve damage, infection, and bleeding. These side effects are rare. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the procedure.

Schedule a Consultation Today


If you’re interested in learning more about lumbar sympathetic injections or have questions about other pain treatment options, we’re here to help. Fill out our contact form below to learn more about how you can manage your acute or chronic pain. Or give us a call and we can talk through your options with you.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY