The sympathetic nerves/ganglions are responsible for pain with burning, shooting and tingling properties. These are specialized nerves that can become “fired-up” even with the smallest injuries or no injuries at all. Most common syndromes related to the sympathetic nerves include RSD(reflex sympathetic dystrophy), facial pain from trigeminal neuralgia, pancreatic cancer pain, etc. Your pain specialist can perform an injection with local anesthetics with or without steroids to disrupt the pain signals from these sympathetic nerves/ganglions.
WHAT PATIENTS ARE CANDIDATES FOR SYMPATHETIC BLOCKS?
Patients with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), headache, facial pain, arm pain, abdominal pain, leg pain, sacral pain, Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), Reynaud’s Syndrome and neuropathy can benefit from these blocks.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
You will be given conscious sedation through an IV (intravenous needle) inserted in your arm/hand on your admission to the facility where the procedure will be performed. You will be escorted to the surgical suite with the nurse and asked to lay on your stomach for the procedure. The MD and /or nurse will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate (breathing) during the procedure. The physician will perform the procedure with a special x ray machine called the fluoroscope to accurately visualize the anatomy. Then contrast dye will be injected to enhance visualization. Finally, local anesthetics with or without steroids will be injected to disrupt the sympathetic pain fibers and relieve pain. Another benefit from sympathetic blocks is to increase blood flow to the areas which can help patients who suffer from PVD, Reynaud’s Syndrome and other blood flow problems.
WILL THE PROCEDURE BE PAINFUL?
Typically the sedation provided minimizes pain.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS FROM SYMPATHETIC BLOCKS?
The most common risks are local pain from the needles. More serious but extremely rare risks are bleeding, infection, nerve injury, paralysis, weakness in the lower extremities and death.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE PROCEDURE TO WORK?
The beneficial effects are usually appreciated immediately following the procedure.