sympathetic nerve blocksPain is something that many Americans live with every day. In a survey conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics Survey, respondents said that back pain was the most common (27%), which was followed by migraines or severe headaches (15%), neck pain (15%), and facial aches and pains (4%). In some cases, the pain may become very chronic and hard to treat. If the relief of pain cannot be achieved through the typical treatments for pain — medications and exercise — some chronic pain patients receive sympathetic nerve blocks.

1. What are sympathetic nerve blocks?
A sympathetic nerve block is a form of pain therapy that targets the sympathetic nervous system, or the part of the nervous system that controls unconscious bodily functions. A nerve block targets those nerves, which can fire pain signals throughout the body. This is commonly used for chronic pain. Some 52 million Americans report having been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

2. What is the procedure like?
If a nerve block is right for you, you will meet with your doctor and a pain specialist with experience in performing nerve blocks to discuss your symptoms and to create a plan of care for you. You may be asked to fast for a number of hours before the procedure is performed. Your vital signs will be closely monitored, and the area of your back or neck (where the injection will be) will be prepared and perhaps anesthetized. The block is an injection which goes directly into the nerve itself and is usually comprised of an anesthetic or some other chemicals.

3. How do I know if it’s right for me?
If you’re finding that typical chronic pain medications aren’t working for you, you might want to discuss whether or not a nerve block is right for you with your doctor. Americans spend $86 billion on back and neck pain alone, and in many cases to no avail. If you live with chronic pain and aren’t finding any relief you might consider a nerve block.

Do you have any questions about sympathetic nerve blocks? Feel free to ask us.