Sympathetic Nerve Block


What is a Sympathetic Nerve Block?
A sympathetic nerve block is a type of treatment that can relieve pain associated with the sympathetic nervous system. It can also be used to diagnose sympathetic nerve damage and diseases.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for activating your fight-or-flight response. When you’re faced with a threat, your sympathetic nervous system triggers an involuntary response. It raises your heart rate, increases blood flow to the muscles, and prepares the body to defend itself.

What Can Go Wrong With the Sympathetic Nervous System?
Disorders of the sympathetic nervous system can cause abnormal, or excessive, involuntary responses in particular areas of the body. These responses can become gradually worse over time, leading to chronic pain and discomfort.

Damage to these nerves could be caused by:

Complications during surgery
Hereditary disorders
Autoimmune diseases
Infectious diseases (Lyme, HIV, etc)
Certain medications (including chemotherapy)
How Does a Sympathetic Nerve Block Work?
Sympathetic Nerve Block, Advanced Pain Management Los AngelesThe sympathetic nerves form bundles just outside the spinal column. These bundles are called ganglions. Neurologists have mapped the ganglions to each gland, organ, or region that they communicate with.

A sympathetic nerve block will anesthetize (numb) the ganglions of the part of the body that’s causing you trouble. For example, if you’re having leg pain, a nerve block would be administered to the ganglions in the lumbar (lower back) region.

How is the Sympathetic Nerve Block Performed?
Your doctor will first assess your symptoms and determine which bundles of nerves will need to be treated. Then, you’ll lie face down, and receive an injection containing an anesthetic near the nerves, next to your spine. The injection will be guided by fluoroscopy.

If your pain starts to subside immediately, that helps the doctor make a diagnosis. You might feel a mild warm sensation in your painful limb during the procedure.

This procedure is relatively safe, and usually you can go home feeling better the same day. If you’ve had IV sedation, we ask that you have someone drive you home afterwards.

What to Expect After a Sympathetic Nerve Block
This procedure is relatively safe, and usually you can go home feeling better the same day. If you’ve had IV sedation, we ask that you have someone drive you home afterwards.

If you’re happy with the results, you may receive a series of 3-6 injections, one or two weeks apart, for long term pain relief.

Sympathetic blocks don’t work for everyone, and the pain relief they give may lessen over time. But for some, a sympathetic block may provide weeks or months of comfort.

Sympathetic Nerve Block Side Effects
You may feel some temporary soreness, weakness, or feelings of warmth for a few hours after the procedure.

If we’ve treated your stellate ganglion, you may experience temporary changes in the voice, drooping eyelid, and difficulty swallowing. You should avoid taking large bites of food, and sip your fluids carefully. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and pain medication may be a part of your recovery.

What Disorders can a Sympathetic Nerve Block Treat?
Sympathetic nerve blocks can reduce pain and improve function in these disorders and more:
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Raynaud’s syndrome
Mononeuritis multiplex
Disc displacement in the lower back
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
Some types of chronic abdominal pain

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