The sympathetic nerves are part of the autonomic nervous system that controls our “fight-or-flight” response. They can constrict blood flow and increase perspiration, blood pressure and heart rate. Sometimes these nerves can transmit pain after an incident or injury.
Sympathetic nerve blocks are an injection of a local anesthetic that can help relieve chronic pain. During this minimally invasive procedure, a numbing agent injected. In some cases a corticosteroid can also be injected. The medications are delivered to the sympathetic ganglia and here the numbing agent can provide pain relief, while the corticosteroid can reduce inflammation.
Who is a candidate of sympathetic nerve block?
You may get benefit from sympathetic nerve blocks if you suffer chronic pain from:
- Complex regional pain syndrome Type 1 commonly called as reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Complex regional pain syndrome Type 2, also called as causalgia
- Vascular insufficiency from small vessel blockage in the legs
- Phantom limb pain
- Herpes zoster infection (shingles) in the legs
- Painful diabetic neuropathy in the legs not relieved with medications
Sympathetic nerve block procedure
The location of your pain usually determines where you’ll receive the nerve block (ganglion in your neck area or a ganglion near the lower spine).
This is what might happen during sympathetic nerve blocks procedure;
- You may be given some medicine through the IV line to make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
- Before the actual block, the area in your neck or back (that need to be blocked) will be made numb with a local anesthetic.
- X-rays or fluoroscopy usually used to help the specialist find the right ganglion.
- Once the ganglion is located, it is then blocked by injecting it with an anesthetic solution or sometimes other chemicals can also use.
Sympathetic nerve blocks take half an hour to complete and it may provide long-term pain relief and the sympathetic nerve block is a relatively safe procedure. You can usually go home eventually and return to your normal daily activities after a day of rest. However physical therapy, talk therapy, and pain medicine may all be part of your treatment along with sympathetic block.
Sympathetic nerve blocks are a relatively safe procedure with minimal risk of complications risks of nerve block injection may include;
- Allergic reaction
- Nerve damage
- A drop in blood pressure
- Anesthetic toxicity
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Medication side effects
Zaki Anwar MD is an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist. He has great expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, sciatica pain and various pain conditions. His center has offering various treatment options including stem cell therapy, amniotic fluid injection and much more.
For further queries call on 815.412.6166