What is a Sympathetic Nerve Block?
The sympathetic nerve roots are located in the spinal cord but the nerve fibers extend to all major parts of the body such as muscles, glands, organs, arms, and legs.
The sympathetic nerves transmit sensory information like touch, pain, and temperature. They also regulate many processes like heart rate, respiration, perspiration, facial and body movement, and digestion. This type of block is typically performed if other methods such as pain medication or steroid injections have not been effective at relieving pain.
Conditions Treated with a Sympathetic Nerve Block
Sympathetic blocks can be used to treat many painful conditions including:
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Pain in the body such as the back, head, neck, tailbone, arms, and legs.
- Pain associated with cancer and cancer treatments.
- Neuropathic pain due to tissue or nerve damage typically described as a burning or shooting pain.
Possible Side Effects of a Sympathetic Nerve Block
As with most medical procedures, there are potential risks associated with a sympathetic nerve block. Although these side effects are rather rare, it is important to discuss the following symptoms with your doctor.
- Temporary soreness around the injection site
- Bleeding at or around the injection site
- Bruising around the injection site
- A feeling of warmth, or some weakness