Lumbar Sympathectomy

What is a Lumbar Sympathectomy?

A Lumbar Sympathectomy is a nerve block of the lumbar sympathetic nerves. These nerves are located next to the lumbar spine. These nerves control general nerve sensitivity in the legs, and also blood flow.

A Lumbar Sympathectomy is normally performed to help reduce neuropathic (nerve) pain in the legs. Sometimes it is performed to improve circulation.

It is normal practice to perform a series of blocks (normally 3 blocks over 3-6 weeks). This tends to increase the duration of any benefit that occurs.

Sometimes we add a pulsed radiofrequency treatment through the same needle, with no extra side effects. This may prolong the period of benefit from any nerve block. For more information please refer to the Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy information sheet.

How long will I be in hospital?

The procedure is short (about 10-15 minutes). Your day hospital stay will normally be about 2-3 hours in total.

What to expect afterwards:

There can be some local discomfort in the neck for 24-48 hours.

The nerve block results in increase blood flow to the leg – which can reduce blood pressure temporarily.

Leg numbness and weakness occurs in rare circumstances. This occurs if the injection also enters the nearby epidural space of the spine.

Are there any complications?

Please refer to the Spinal Injections information sheet.

After the injection.

The NIPM nurses will call you the morning after the procedure to assess your response and arrange follow up.

If you experience any severe pain, weakness or numbness, swelling, fevers, chills, severe headaches, bleeding /discharge from the wounds, or if you have any other concerns then please contact NIPM or the Day Hospital centre. If for some reason it is not possible to get in touch, please see your GP or attend your local emergency department for assessment.