If you suffer from one of these conditions, your doctor may recommend a sympathetic block procedure:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Nerve damage caused by injury or disease (Neuropathy)
  • Artery or vein damage (Peripheral Vascular Disease)
  • Phantom Limb Pain
  • Injury or disease of the chest, abdomen, or pelvic areas
  • Cancer

The sympathetic nervous system controls automatic activities in your body such as heart rate and digestion. It is not normally the source of painful signals sent to the brain, but a variety of conditions, as listed above, can cause sympathetic nerve pain.

During the sympathetic block procedure, medication is injected, under x-ray guidance, into groups of sympathetic nerves located close to the spine under x-ray guidance. This may stop these nerves from transmitting painful signals to the brain. This procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes and can be carried out in a surgery center eliminating the need for hospitalization.

The relief patients receive from this procedure varies, as everyone’s pain relief is unique. However, patients who get a sympathetic block procedure soon after the start of their pain condition have reported longer-term pain relief than others who wait. If you receive pain relief from a sympathetic block, your doctor is likely to schedule a series of additional procedures to potentially give you additional relief. Your doctor may also recommend a radiofrequency ablation or spinal cord stimulator to give you longer lasting pain relief.

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