Sympathetic Nerve Block: Before Your Procedure
What is a sympathetic nerve block?
A sympathetic nerve block is an injection of medicine around nerves in your neck or back. This nerve block is used for problems such as chronic regional pain syndrome and pain from some types of cancer.
Sympathetic nerves spread out from your spine. They control some of the body functions you have no control over, like blood flow and digestion. They also carry pain signals. When this system isn't working right, you can have long-term (chronic) pain.
The nerves come together in groups called ganglions throughout your body. This is where the nerve block is done. Your doctor will decide which group of nerves needs this treatment.
The nerve block contains anesthetic, which usually numbs the nerves. It may also contain a steroid, which may reduce swelling and pain. Steroids take a few days, and they don't always work.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery centre
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
- You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: February 16, 2022