A Sympathetic Block is an interventional pain management technique used to provide relief from pain caused from a number of conditions. It involves injecting medication into the groups of sympathetic nerves near the spine. A sympathetic block may be used to treat pain from conditions, such as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, neuropathy, phantom limb pain, circulatory insufficiency and post-herpetic neuralgia.
How is it beneficial?
The sympathetic nerves run along the spinal column, and are part of the autonomic nervous system. An imbalance to this system of nerves may cause chronic pain in the extremities. By injecting the medication around the sympathetic nerves, they are blocked from sending pain signals to the brain.
What can I expect?
Upon arrival, you will meet with one of healthcare professionals to discuss your medical history and to ask any questions you may have about the procedure.
You may receive IV sedation to help relax you. Once the area is sterilized, your doctor numbs the area and then uses fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray technology), along with contrast dye, to determine proper needle placement. Once confirmed, a needle containing medications is injected into groups of sympathetic nerves. Following the procedure, you will rest in the recovery area. If sedated, you will need a responsible adult to accompany you home.
Recovery time is relatively short due to the nature of the procedure. You may feel slight discomfort at the injection site. Be sure to follow discharge instructions, and contact your doctor if discomfort continues or new symptoms arise.
How soon will I feel relief?
You may feel relief from a sympathetic block within hours of the procedure. The length of pain relief varies with each patient.