The sympathetic nerves are a network of nerves spread along the front portion of the spinal column. They are a component of the independent nervous system and governs many bodily functions including sweating, heart rate, digestion and blood pressure
Occasionally these nerves can carry on to transfer pain after an injury, even after the injury has been recovered. The condition can result in chronic regional pain syndrome, also known as CRPS. The symptoms of CRPS include severe pain with burning sensation, swelling and changes in skin color.
A sympathetic nerve block is a particular test to help your physician diagnose the root cause of your symptoms. During the test, a numbing medication is administered near your spine. This blocks the sympathetic nerves in the area. If the pain is rooted from these nerves, the injections may provide relief for a couple of hours soon after the procedure. Depends on the result your physician may prescribe multiple injections of sympathetic nerve blocks with an interval of 1-2 weeks, which will help you get a long term relief and improved quality of life
What are the complications of the procedure?
The sympathetic nerve block procedure has rare complication, but it may include infection, bleeding, spinal block and injections may damage the blood vessels. It is important to note that the procedure cannot be carried out if you have an active infection such as flu, cold, fever very high blood pressure or if you are taking blood thinners. Inform your physician prior to the procedure about any of these conditions
What happens during the actual procedure?
At The Pain Management institute the procedure is performed by Dr. Zaki Anwar, MD, founder of The Pain Management Institute. You will be first given an IV line for fluids and a mild sedative to help relax before the procedure. You will be asked to lie on an X-ray table on your stomach. Your skin will be cleansed and Dr. Zaki Anwar will administer a numbing medication on the skin he uses the fluoroscopy procedure to guide the needle straight to the sympathetic nerves. If sympathetic nerves are the root cause your pain will immediately stop and the temperature in your painful limb will increase. Sympathetic nerve blocks provide a long term relief. Dr Zaki Anwar, MD will prescribe how many sessions are required depending on your condition. Generally a few sessions are given with an interval of 1 to 2 weeks apart and if you are having a physical therapy you will notice rapid improvements