Why is this procedure done?
A Sympathetic Block is performed when pain is thought to be originating from the sympathetic nervous system (i.e. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/RSD/CRPS). If pain is substantially reduced after these nerves are blocked, then from a diagnostic standpoint you are having “sympathetically mediated pain.” Additional blocks may be repeated in the future if the initial block is successful.

How do I prepare for this procedure?
You should not eat for 4 hours before the procedure. You can take any routine medications before the procedure. You will need to bring a driver to take you home. If you have any changes in your medical condition or are feeling sick, you should contact our office to inform our staff. You should stop all blood thinners, such as: Coumadin, Plavix, aspirin and most arthritis medications. You should stop herbal medicines and supplements one week before the procedure.

What happens during this procedure? You will be placed on your stomach and the skin over the injection site(s) is cleaned. A local anesthetic numbs the skin. After the anesthetic has been given time to be effective, the physician directs a small needle, using x-ray guidance to the sympathetic plexus of nerves. A contrast “dye” will be injected to confirm placement at the targeted nerves. Once this occurs, numbing medication will be injected.

What are the side effects?
In general, a sympathetic block is a very safe procedure. Serious side effects or complications are rare with sympathetic blocks. However, similar to all injection procedures, although unlikely, adverse effects are possible. The risks include but are not limited to: allergic reaction to the medication, bruising at the injection site, and infection. To help prevent infection the procedure is performed under sterile conditions. Please discuss any specific concerns with your physician.

What happens after this procedure?
After the procedure, you will be able to go home and rest. You may do desk or table level activities. You should not return to work until the next day. You will need a driver to take you home. If you are sore after the injection, you may apply ice to the area.

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