Overview & Procedure
Sympathetic nerve blocks are minimally invasive injections that are used to relieve lower back pain and leg pain in patients who suffer from sciatica. This treatment option can also be used to manage pain caused by complex regional pain syndrome, shingles, peripheral neuropathy, and more. During the procedure, the patient is given an intravenous sedation so that he or she is relaxed throughout the procedure. An area of the lower back is numbed with a local anesthetic before an SWSP physician injects a contrast dye in the same area using x-ray guidance. The contrast dye allows the SWSP physician to identify the correct spot for treatment so he or she can inject a highly effective, long-lasting steroid medication into the sympathetic nerves. Once the affected area has been treated, patients will be sent to a separate room to recover.
After the procedure, patients will be asked to rest for the next 24 hours to reduce the risk of post-procedural complications. Immediately after the sympathetic block, patients will experience pain relief that lasts several hours before some of their pain returns. This is normal, as it is a sign the anesthetic from the procedure is wearing off. Long-term pain relief will begin about two or three days after the sympathetic block, which is usually when the steroid takes effect. In order to experience complete pain relief, patients may require a series of injections over the course of several months. In some instances, patients may only require one or two injections, while others will require many more. Patients experiencing redness, increased pain, swelling around the injection site, or signs of infection should notify their Southwest Spine & Pain Center physician immediately.