Lumbar Sympathectomy by Laser for RSD???

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 369
   Posted 10/15/2008 12:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone, I was hoping i could find someone w/ info on this.
My PM doc is this procedure, after having a ton of lumbar nerve blocks that in the past worked well, but after yrs of treatment, i am having less relief.
My pain is due to a lawnmower accident as a child, resulting in complete reconstruction of the foot, loss of a toe, and severe pain and major nerve damage.
I am worried that this will cause me to become numb in the foot? They said that the nerve eventually grows back since it is being burned not cut? That relief could be from 6mo to two yrs depending on how it grows back...
I am scared to move to more drastic measures, has anyone ever had this done? I would like to know if a open inscision was made? stitches? and what recovery was like, was it similar to a nerve block?
TIA everyone!
2003, dx moderate UC
2000, dx selective IGA deficiency w/ anti IGA antibodies
2000, dx Antipholipid Antibody Syndrome
1999-current, chronic hemmoragic ovarian cysts, w/ partial ovary removal
1977, complete reconstruction of foot after lawnmower accident (chronic pain)
6mp 75mg, prednisone 40mg (just starting meds again)
percocet 5mg 3x day
potassium 3x day

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 10/15/2008 1:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm not familiar with a sympathectomy, but had researched what sounds like a similar procedure to "sever" (it actually injures the nerve so it can't send impulses across the synapses, at least for awhile) the nerve. I've not had the procedure; ended up with lumbar fusion because my nerve couldn't be isolated so clearly. And I had severe DDD on top of everything else. I have learned a lot about nerves through all this since nerve pain is my main problem.

Nerves regenerate at a very slow pace, and sometimes in unpredictable ways. So even though the nerve is injured, it can grow back but it will take up to two years. During that time you may get some pain relief if the procedure is successful. However, I don't know if that means your foot will be completely numb. I actually have numbness and tingling in both feet, but I still have enough feeling to be able to walk, although not comfortably or for long (my symptoms are more like neuropathy). So that's something you'd have to ask your doctor. And as with any kind of procedure like this, no one can probably give you 100% certainty. Still, it may be worth a try to relief the pain if nothing else is doing it. But maybe you'll risk numbness. Maybe someone else here has had that procedure and can give you more info.

Nerves sure are tricky and while we need them, they sure can cause serious problems for many of us.

You may want to research the specific procedure on, which is the lay person's version of medline (that's what the doctors use to access professional journals). Medscape is free, and you can even search medline and some of those articles are also free, but some things on Medline require a subscription. A lot of what I read I couldn't completely understand (the medscape articles are watered down for those of us who aren't doctors!), but I did learn a lot before having my back surgery. You may be able to find some studies on the success of the procedure, frequency of numbness, etc.

Good luck!

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