Sympathetic nerve block therapy targets the sympathetic nervous system, a series of nerves that spread out from your spine to your body to help control several involuntary body functions like blood flow, digestion and sweating.
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. If you have pain in the upper part of your body you may get pain relief from treatment to the Stellate Ganglion in your neck area. If you have pain in the lower part of your body, the ganglion near the lower spine may be targeted with a Lumbar Sympathetic Block.
The Sympathetic Block can be used to diagnose or treat pain. Examples of conditions for which this type of block may be used include:
- Phantom Pain after an amputation
- Pain from spasms in the blood vessels after frostbite
- Chronic tail bone pain, called Coccydynia
- Lingering pain from shingles, called Postherpetic Neuralgia
- Intractable Angina
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Circulation problems like Raynaud’s Syndrome
A sympathetic nerve block is a relatively safe procedure. You can usually go home afterward and return to your normal activities after a day of rest. Side effects after a sympathetic block may include temporary soreness, a feeling of warmth or some weakness. If you’ve received a nerve block in the Stellate Ganglion, you may experience some temporary voice changes, eyelid droop, or difficulty swallowing. Until swallowing is back to normal eat soft foods in small bites and sip liquids carefully. In most cases, you will be given a series of several blocks to get the best possible response. Sympathetic Blocks don’t work for everyone, and the pain relief they give may lessen over time. But for some it can provide weeks or months of pain relief, and permanent relief is possible.