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Sympathetic Nerve Blocks

Overview

This procedure is an injection that numbs branches of nerves in your lower back. It helps doctors find and treat a number of problems linked to these nerves. Usually, a series of injections is needed to treat a problem.

About the Sypathetic Nerves

The sympathetic nerves travel along both sides of your spine. They are associated with a wide range of functions that you don't consciously control. These include your circulation, digestion and sweat production.

Placing the Needle

The physician inserts a needle and carefully guides it to the sympathetic nerves. The physician typically uses an x-ray device called a "fluoroscope." This shows a video image of the needle's position. Contrast dye may be injected to help confirm that the needle is placed correctly.

Injection

Next, the physician injects medicine. It bathes the nerves. It can numb the nerves and reduce inflammation. If these nerves have been a source of pain, the medicine can relieve it. The injection may also provide other benefits, depending on your needs.

End of Procedure and Aftercare

When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed and the injection site is covered with a bandage. You will be monitored for a brief time before you are allowed to go home. After a lumbar sympathetic block, many people experience leg numbness or weakness. This is normal, and usually lasts for only a few hours. You may need to return for more injections in the future.

Preparation

In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your stomach or your side. You are given medicine to make you feel relaxed. The skin and tissue at the injection site is numbed.

Overview

A stellate ganglion nerve block is an injection that numbs branches of nerves in your neck. This helps doctors find and treat a number of problems linked to the nerves. Treatment may require a series of injections.

About the Stellate Ganglion Nerves

The stellate ganglion nerves travel along both sides of your spine. They are associated with a wide range of bodily functions that you don't consciously control. These include blushing, heart rate, sweating and the dilation of your pupils.

Placing the Needle

The physician inserts a needle and carefully guides it to the nerves of the stellate ganglion. The physician typically uses an x-ray device called a "fluoroscope." This shows a video image of the needle's position. Contrast dye may be injected to help confirm that the needle is placed correctly.

Injection

Next, the physician injects medicine. It bathes the nerves. It can numb the nerves and reduce inflammation. If these nerves have been a source of pain, the medicine can relieve it. The injection may also provide other benefits, depending on your needs.

End of Procedure and Aftercare

When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed and the injection site is covered with a bandage. You will be monitored for a brief time before you are allowed to go home. After a stellate ganglion block, many people experience some noticeable temporary effects. The arm on the side where you were given the injection may feel warm and tingly. Your voice may be hoarse. You may have nasal congestion, a flushed face and a droopy eye. These effects are normal, and they usually disappear after a few hours. You may need to return for more injections in the future.

Preparation

In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your back. You are given medicine to make you feel relaxed. The skin and tissue of your neck is numbed.

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