Sympathetic nerve blocks can treat various conditions, including complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), sympathetically mediated pain, and neuropathic pain.
The benefits of sympathetic nerve blocks include:
The technique for performing a sympathetic nerve block can vary depending on the location of the affected nerves. For example, a stellate ganglion block involves injecting medication into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves located in the neck. A lumbar sympathetic block involves injecting drugs into the sympathetic nerves in the lower back.
To perform a sympathetic nerve block, the patient is typically given a local anesthetic to numb the skin and underlying tissue. Using image guidance such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy, the doctor inserts a needle into the affected nerves and injects medication to block pain signals.
Candidates for sympathetic nerve blocks include patients with CRPS, sympathetically mediated pain, and neuropathic pain. The procedure may also treat other conditions such as cancer pain or angina. Patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits of the system with their doctor to determine whether it is the right treatment option for their needs.
An article published in Pain and Therapy in 2017 reviewed the use of sympathetic nerve blocks for treating CRPS, finding that the procedure effectively reduced pain and improved function in many patients. Another study published in Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine in 2019 found that sympathetic nerve blocks effectively reduced pain and improved function in patients with lumbar radiculopathy. These studies and others provide evidence to support the use of sympathetic nerve blocks as a safe and effective treatment option for many patients with pain conditions.
Another study published in Pain Medicine in 2016 found that sympathetic nerve blocks effectively reduced pain and improved function in patients with sympathetically mediated pain, such as CRPS or post-herpetic neuralgia. The study noted that sympathetic nerve blocks may be a viable alternative to surgery or medication for these conditions.
Sympathetic nerve blocks may be a promising treatment option for patients who have not responded to other pain management treatments, such as medication or physical therapy. The procedure may also be part of a comprehensive pain management plan, including different therapies such as counseling or surgery.
In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, sympathetic nerve blocks have several other advantages. For example, the procedure is minimally invasive and does not require general anesthesia, allowing patients to return home the same day. The medication used in the injection is usually a local anesthetic, meaning there is a lower risk of systemic side effects than other pain medications.
It is important to note that while sympathetic nerve blocks can provide effective pain relief, the benefits may be temporary. Patients may require multiple injections over time to achieve lasting pain relief. Sometimes, the procedure may need to be repeated every few months to relieve pain.
In conclusion, sympathetic nerve blocks are a safe and effective treatment option for many patients with pain conditions such as CRPS, sympathetically mediated pain, or neuropathic pain. The procedure is minimally invasive, customizable, and can provide significant pain relief and improved function for many patients.
Patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits of the procedure with their doctor to determine whether it is the right treatment option for their needs. Several studies have supported the use of sympathetic nerve blocks, including the ones mentioned earlier, and provide evidence for the safety and effectiveness of the procedure.