How Can Sympathetic Nerve Blocks Help With Pain?

How Can Sympathetic Nerve Blocks Help With Pain?

There are a variety of different nerve blocks that exist to help manage pain.  One of these nerve blocks is a sympathetic nerve block.  These blocks are focused on addressing pain caused by sympathetic nerves, which run in front of the spinal canal as opposed to inside the spinal canal.  The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for directing the body’s involuntary responses, sometimes known as “fight or flight” responses.  When these nerves misfire, they can cause pain in people, adversely affecting their quality of life.

The sympathetic nerves help control blood flow, temperature, sweating, digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.  These are all parts of our bodies that change without us thinking about them.  Sympathetic nerves are part of the autonomic nervous system.  At times, the regulation of the autonomic nervous system becomes altered.  This typically happens as a result of some kind of injury and can cause chronic pain.  Sympathetic nerves are important to make sure our necessary bodily functions are continuously occurring.  However, sympathetic nerves can occasionally fire off painful impulses that do not serve a purpose.  When this happens, medical attention is necessary.

Sympathetic nerve blocks can be used as a diagnostic tool or a treatment tool.  Diagnostically, they can help physicians to determine whether or not it is a sympathetic nerve causing the pain.  When used as a treatment, sympathetic nerve blocks can help minimize the pain a patient feels from the nerves improperly firing.  During the procedure, the patient may be given a local anesthetic to help make the procedure more comfortable.  An anesthetic is injected into the sympathetic nerves to see if pain relief is felt.  The procedure as a whole is short and takes about half an hour.

Not everyone is a candidate for sympathetic nerve blocks.  The best candidates for sympathetic nerve blocks are those patients with undiagnosed burning in the arms and legs.  Also, patients who experience unexplained pain in their face or pelvic region are also potential candidates.  Sympathetic nerve blocks are short procedures and also have short recovery times.  The procedure is outpatient, and the patient can typically leave within an hour after the operation.  While the patient is normally instructed to take it easy during the day of the procedure, they can return to normal activities as they are able to handle them.  For patients who use sympathetic nerve blocks as a treatment, patients should see their ability to go longer and longer between procedures as they continue getting the blocks.

Unexplained pain can be very frustrating to live with and can create a sense of hopelessness for the patient involved.  Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to both diagnose and treat unexplained pain.  One of these options is sympathetic nerve blocks.  Patients who have experienced an injury, and afterward noticed unexplained burning in their arms or legs, or pain in their facial or pelvic region should reach out to a pain management specialist.  These doctors specialize in treatments that are equipped to deal with the pain that may seem to have no explanation.