A sympathetic nerve block is an injection of medicine into your neck or back to help chronic pain.
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, such as after an injury, you can have chronic pain.
These nerves come together in groups called ganglions throughout your body. This is where these nerve blocks are done.
If the nerve block was in your neck, the numbing medicine might affect your face for a few hours. You may have a droopy eyelid, a stuffy nose, a red eye, or redness in the face. You may also have some trouble swallowing. Follow your doctor's instructions about eating and drinking for the next few hours.
If the nerve block was in your back, you may feel some warmth and redness in your leg or foot.
This type of nerve block doesn't always work. If it does work, you may feel pain relief right away. Sometimes the pain returns after the anesthetic medicine wears off.
If your nerve block included a steroid, it may take a few days to relieve the pain.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: June 4, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
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