Lumbar Sympathetic Ganglion Injection

The lumbar sympathetic ganglion is a bundle of nerves located just in front of the lower spine. It is responsible for the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. It can transmit pain when injured.

A lumbar sympathetic ganglion injection can be used to treat painful conditions in the leg and foot, including:

  • Complex regional pain syndrome – chronic pain in an arm or leg
  • Phantom limb pain – pain or discomfort that feels as though it is coming from a limb that is not there (such as following amputation)
  • Hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating
  • Vascular disease – conditions of the circulation system
  • Peripheral neuropathic pain disorders – damage to nerves

You will have this procedure in the Northwestern Medicine Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine Clinic.

What to Expect During a Lumbar Sympathetic Ganglion Injection

During the procedure:

  • You will lie face down on the procedure table.
  • You may be sedated so the procedure is more comfortable.
  • Your care team will clean your back.
  • They will drape your back to keep the area sterile.
  • Your physician will use a small needle to numb the skin with a local anesthetic.
  • Using an X-ray for guidance, your physician will place needles on either side of your spine and move toward the front of the spine.
  • Your physician will inject a contrast dye to confirm the correct position of the needle.
  • They will inject a local anesthetic and, in some cases, steroid.
  • You will likely feel a temperature change in the limb on the affected side.

Many patients will have immediate pain relief. However, you may need several injections for long-lasting pain relief.

Complications can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Soreness
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Nerve injury
  • Injury to the surrounding tissue