What are the sympathetic nerves?
The sympathetic nerves run on the front
surface of the spinal column (not in the spinal canal with
the nerves from the central nervous system). The sympathetic
nerves are part of the autonomic nervous systems which basically
controls certain functions other than sensation and motor
function. In other words, the autonomic nervous system is
responsible for controlling things people do not have to
think about or have direct control concerning their function. But,
there is a connection between the central and autonomic nervous
systems. Sometimes arm and leg pain is caused by a malfunction
of the autonomic system secondary to an injury.
What is a sympathetic nerve block?
A sympathetic nerve block involves
injecting medicine around the sympathetic nerves, ganglion
or chain in a lumbar or cervical area.
Why is sympathetic block helpful?
The system is temporarily blocked
in hopes of reducing or eliminating pain. If the initial
block is successful, then additional blocks are generally
repeated and repeated again until the pain diminishes.
What happens during the procedure?
An IV will be started so that relaxation
medication can be given. The patient is placed on the x-ray
table on their back for a cervical block and on their stomach
for a lumbar block in the operating room.
This skin on the neck or the skin
on the low back is scrubbed using alcohol. Next, the physician
numbs a small area of skin with numbing medicine.
After the numbing medicine has been
given time to be effective, the physician directs a very
small needle, using x-ray guidance to the area of the sympathetic
A small amount of contrast (dye)
is injected to insure proper needle position. Then, a small
mixture of numbing medicine (anesthetic), is
What happens after the procedure?
Immediately after the procedure
the patient will go back to the recovery area where they
are monitored for 15-30 minutes.
The patient can eat a light meal
within a few hours before the procedure.
If a patient is an insulin dependent
diabetic, they must not change their normal eating pattern
prior to the procedure.
Patients may take their routine
medications. (i.e. high blood pressure
and diabetic medications).
You were given a number of medications during the procedure. These
sometimes include sedatives, narcotics, local anesthetics,
steroids, and other medications. Any of these drugs or
procedure itself, sometimes can cause side effects, including
drowsiness, temporary numbness, weakness and soreness.
|What To Do After the Procedure?
for a few hours and use assistance if needed.
Resume activity as tolerated, but do not overdo.
Resume regular diet.
Do not drive
or operate machinery for at least 12 hours.
Do not make important decisions for 12-24 hours after
Walk with assistance as long as numbness, weakness, or
drowsiness is present.
|Notify If You Have:
abnormal bleeding / persistent chills or fever over
If there is a major change in pain pattern or level.
|| In case of emergency, call (270) 554-8373.
If unable to reach physician report to the nearest emergency
room and request them to inform physician at Pain Management
|Few Other Things:
Take your usual medication.
Apply ice massage as instructed; may use heat if ice
If IV site becomes painful, place warm towels on the
site for 20 minutes
2-3 times / day.