This procedure is performed to determine if there is pain coming from the sympathetic nerve chain. This is a network of nerves extending the length of the spine. These nerves control some of the involuntary functions of the body, such as opening and narrowing blood vessels. However, they may sometimes carry painful impulses as well.
Involves injecting anesthetic into different nerves. These may include stellate ganglion, celiac plexus, hypogastric plexus, ganglion of impar and lumbar sympathetic. Sedation may be offered for patient comfort.
Patients with nerve (neurogenic) pain, most commonly the constant burning pain of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) otherwise known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in the arm or leg are candidates for the procedure. Also patients with coccydynia (tail bone pain), facial pain or pelvic area pain may be candidates.
The sympathetic nerve blocks procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Patient usually is monitored for 30 to 60 minutes and then can resume activity as tolerated. Patient is instructed to rest for the day of the procedure.
Usually, there is a progressive increase in the interval between when blocks are needed due to the pain relief provided by the procedure.