Sympathetic blocks are treatments available to patients who have not achieved successful results with pain medication or steroid injections in their knees, back or neck. Sympathetic nerves are nerves that begin in the spinal cord and spread throughout the body. These nerves work with the autonomic nervous system in the body to transmit signals to the brain related to such feelings as touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. Nerve blocks halt these signals allowing a return to normal function without pain.
A SYMPATHETIC NERVE BLOCK INJECTION INVOLVES INJECTING A LOCAL NUMBING ANESTHETIC AND A CORTICOSTEROID INTO WHERE THE SYMPATHETIC NERVE ROOTS ARE LOCATED.
Sympathetic nerve blocks are safe procedures for treating a variety of chronic pain issues affecting different areas of your body. The key to success is in the proper targeting of the nerve that manages the area causing the pain. If you’re seeking help for pain management, please contact us at 347.252.6732 or book your appointment online.
TYPICAL BENEFITS OF SYMPATHETIC BLOCKS
- The goal is to “reset” the spinal cord and brain so that you do not experience as much or any pain in the future.
- Less need for systemic opioids (narcotics) and less nausea as a result.
- Easier breathing resulting from better pain control.
- Easier participation in physical therapy.
- Improves mobility.
- Reduces pain and swelling.
- Provides complete pain relief or provides diagnostic support to determine whether pain was originating from the sympathetic nervous system.
- Minimally invasive.
HOW SYMPATHETIC BLOCKS WORK
A sympathetic nerve block injection involves injecting a local numbing anesthetic (Lidocaine, Bupivacaine) and a corticosteroid into space where the sympathetic nerve roots are located. The location of your pain usually determines where you’ll receive the nerve block. Your sympathetic nerves come together outside your spine area in thick networks of nerves called ganglions (or sympathetic chain). If you’re experiencing pain in the upper part of your body, you may get pain relief from blocking the stellate ganglion or sympathetic chain in your neck area. If you have pain in the lower part of your body, a ganglion near the lower spine may be targeted with a lumbar sympathetic block.
A local skin anesthetic is injected first to numb the area followed by a second needle which will be inserted near the ganglion or sympathetic chain under X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy). This procedure takes less than 15 minutes. Sometimes your physician will recommend intravenous sedation to make sure the procedure is as comfortable as possible for you. You will be monitored after the procedure to determine the effects the block has on your pain.
CONDITIONS TREATED WITH SYMPATHETIC BLOCKS
A sympathetic nerve block can be used to diagnose or treat pain involving the nerves of the sympathetic nervous system. Examples of conditions for which a sympathetic nerve block might be used include:
- Facial pain.
- Neck pain.
- Knee pain.
- Neuropathy in the arms and/or legs.
- Excessive sweating.
- Pain from spasms in the blood vessels.
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).
- Sympathetic maintained pain.
- Complex regional pain syndrome.
- Herpes zoster (shingles) involving the legs.
- Postherpetic neuralgia.
- Abdominal pain.