A sympathetic nerve block is performed to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve chain and if it is the source of pain. This is a diagnostic test primarily, but it may provide relief far in excess of the duration of the anesthetic.
How is it done?
The patient may be given IV sedation. A local skin anesthetic is given in the lumbar area of the back. A needle is then inserted into the back under fluoroscopy next to the vertebral body at the lumbar-2 or lumbar-3 level. The block may be performed on both sides of the spine at one or both of these levels. An anesthetic medication with or without steroid will be injected into the area or areas.
The patient may note redness of the lower extremity and a feeling of warmth. Pain relief should occur if the pain is from a sympathetic source.
How long does it take?
It takes 30 minutes for the procedure followed by approximately 30 to 40 minutes of recovery time.
Sympathetic Nerves – A network of nerves extending the length of the spine that control some of the voluntary functions of the body, such as opening and narrowing of blood vessels.