24 Jul Why You Should Consider Sympathetic Nerve Blocks
The sympathetic nerve chain in your body controls involuntary functions in the body. This network of nerves controls functions such as opening and narrowing of the blood vessels as an example. Unfortunately, these nerves can give off painful impulses as well. When a patient feels unexplained pain that may be coming from the sympathetic nerve chain, they may be diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). While this is a rare condition, it can negatively impact a person’s quality of life and make it difficult to perform day to day activities.
Patients who suffer from CRPS may notice constant throbbing pain in the extremities, sensitivity to cold, swelling, changes in skin temperature, color, and texture, joint stiffness and swelling, and muscle spasms or tremors. This can in turn lead to difficulty moving normally. Symptoms may vary over time but can ultimately lead to the affected limb becoming pale and cold. Once this occurs, the damage is irreversible.
Unfortunately, the best treatments available currently treat the symptoms of the condition. This means a strong focus on managing pain. If you suffer from CRPS, sympathetic nerve blocks may offer some relief for your painful symptoms. Sympathetic nerve blocks are performed by injecting an anesthetic into different nerves. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and patients are usually monitored for an hour after the procedure is performed. After this short resting period, the patient can resume activities as normal the next day. Patients experience pain relief for varying periods of time after the sympathetic nerve block is given.
Unfortunately, CRPS is not fully understood which makes it very difficult to treat. There is currently no cure for the condition. Researchers believe the condition is a result of some kind of injury to the neural pathways of the peripheral and central nervous systems. In some cases, surgery, heart attacks, infections, and sprained ankles have lead to CRPS. The pain associated with CRPS typically arises due to an inappropriate inflammatory response. Unfortunately, the condition can lead to other complications such as tissue atrophy or muscle tightening.
Damage to nerves can be extremely difficult to treat. In fact, most patients go for months or years trying to deal with the pain before it is properly diagnosed. Sympathetic nerves start at the spine and spread throughout the body. While they are most notable for controlling involuntary functions such as blood vessel opening and narrowing and digestion, they are also responsible for carrying pain signals. When these pain signals get out of control, it can make day to day life feel unbearable for the patient.
Patients who are suffering from CRPS are fortunately to have sympathetic nerve blocks as a minimally invasive treatment method. If the treatment works, patients should feel pain relief for a period of time. This time period changes depending on the patient. But, more or less anesthetic can be given depending on the patient’s pain relief results. There are some trial and error needed with sympathetic nerve blocks to get the perfect mix. However, they do offer a great deal of relief to CRPS patients.