Sympathetic Nerve Blocks

A Sympathetic Nerve Block is an outpatient procedure. This is a diagnostic and therapeutic nerve block performed for the diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome. This block can be performed for upper and lower extremity pain syndromes that may involve the sympathetic nervous system.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is pain syndrome that occurred after surgery or an injury. Although the exact mechanism of how or why this occurs is not completely understood, somehow the sympathetic nerves become involved in the pain cycle, which is not normal. This involvement leads to a syndrome of symptoms, including pain. The purpose of this procedure is to diagnose the syndrome and remove the sympathetic nerves from being involved in the cycle.

This procedure is usually performed using fluoroscopic guidance. We do recommend sedation for this procedure.

A needle is inserted close to the sympathetic nerves involved in the pain cycle. Contrast dye will be used to confirm placement of the needle. A local anesthetic agent is then injected to temporarily block the sympathetic nerves. Once your procedure is completed, you will be taken to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) while you recover from sedation. Your physician will assess you in the PACU and evaluate your pain and function of the affected extremity.