A sympathetic nerve block involves injecting numbing medication around the sympathetic nerves in the back. The sympathetic nerves are situated on the front surface of the spinal column, just outside of the spinal canal in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas. The sympathetic nerves are part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling the things that we do not have to think about or have direct control over, such as salivation, heartbeat, pupil response, etc.
The injection is done by a physician under fluoroscopy (x-ray). You will be brought into the procedure room and lay on your stomach on a special table. If you are receiving oral or IV sedation, this will be administered prior to the procedure. You skin will be cleaned at the injection sites. The fluoroscope (x-ray machine) will be used to help visualize the needle as it is guided to the appropriate site and the numbing medication is then injected.
After the injection, you will be moved into the recovery area, where you will be monitored for 15-20 minutes by a RN. If you received IV sedation, you will need to be monitored for at least 1 hour.
We recommend that you take it easy for the remainder of the day. You may resume normal activities the next day. You may then experience tenderness or aggravated symptoms for several days after the injection. You may use ice packs to help with this pain.
You should follow-up with your provider after the injection, so that we can determine the next step in your care.