Sympathetic Nerve Blocks in CITY* STATE*
Do you need a sympathetic nerve block in CITY* STATE*? To understand how a nerve block is utilized, it is important to gain a basic understanding of how the nervous system is designed and functions. On the most basic level, our nervous system is divided into three systems; sensory, motor, and autonomic. When breaking down the nervous system even further, the sympathetic nervous system is the largest component of the autonomic division. The sympathetic nervous system is largely responsible for managing all of the activities that you don't think about on a daily basis, but are immensely important for keeping you alive. For example, the sympathetic nervous system maintains a healthy heart rate, monitors your digestion, regulates your blood flow, and is the main system for ensuring that the majority of your organs function properly. So why would you want a block to stop the function of these important nerves? Through this short article, our doctors at CLINIC NAME* will provide you with some information to answer that question, in addition to information about the procedure, and what to expect following the treatment.
Understanding Sympathetic Nerve Block in CITY* STATE*
Most doctors who recommend that patients undergo sympathetic nerve block treatments do so because the patient is suffering from some form of chronic pain that has failed to respond to conventional health care options. In addition to treating pain, nerve blocks have also proven to have some diagnostic value. Having said that, nerve blocks should never be considered as your first or only treatment option. The following are some of the conditions that sympathetic nerve blocks have been used for:
- Residual pain from cases of shingles
- Long-lasting pain throughout the tail bone; especially when seated
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which commonly occurs after breaking the wrist
- Lingering pain following frostbite
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- A sensation of pain in a limb after it has been amputated
- Unexplained pain throughout the face
- Useful for controlling pain following various surgeries
What to expect before and during a nerve block treatment?
Just as a dentist can numb a certain portion of your mouth prior to extracting a tooth, pain management specialists are trained at applying a local anesthetic (a numbing agent) to certain nerves throughout your body. The location of the pain you are experiencing and the symptoms you present with are useful in determining which nerve may be the culprit causing your pain. In fact, nerve blocks to alleviate pain throughout the upper body are often applied outside of the spinal cord near the neck and nerve blocks to provide relief from pain throughout the lower portion of your body are often applied near your lumbar spine. The exact procedure leading up to your sympathetic nerve block may vary from doctor to doctor, but the following will provide you with some general information on what to expect:
Patient preparation is a large portion of the procedure. During the weeks preceding the treatment, your doctor will instruct you to refrain from taking medications such as aspirin and supplements such as fish oil and vitamin E.
- As with many surgeries; your doctor may ask you to not eat for as many as 6 hours prior to the procedure.
- Throughout the treatment, doctors will watch your vital signs and provide you with medications through an IV to help you remain relaxed and calm.
- After the treatment area has been identified, your skin will be cleaned to help prevent infection.
- A needle will be used to target the suspect nerve and a specialized motion X-Ray will be used to guide the doctor to the correct location.
- Finally, as mentioned before, a local anesthetic similar to the one your dentist uses to numb your teeth will be applied.
- A typical nerve block procedure without complication will last approximately 30 minutes from start to finish.
What to expect following the procedure
If the procedure goes as planned, most patients following a sympathetic nerve block are able to leave soon after the treatment is finished. However, bringing someone with you to the treatment center is always a good idea. The side effects and reported sensations following a nerve block depend largely on the nerve treated and the success of the procedure. It is not uncommon for patients to report a feeling of warmth or minor pain around the injection site. In addition to these symptoms, many people will also experience a raspy voice, sagging eyelids, or insufficient sweating on the side of the treatment. These sensations are a normal response to altering the function of the sympathetic nervous system, but it is important to inform your doctor of their presence. Unfortunately, one-time treatments are atypical and as a result, a series of nerve block procedures may be performed in subsequent months.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding sympathetic nerve blocks in CITY* STATE*, please schedule a consultation with your doctor at CLINIC NAME*.
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