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Sympathetic Nerve Block: Your Experience

The injection is done in a hospital or surgery center. You’ll be asked to fill out some forms, including a consent form. You may also be examined.

Getting Ready for Your Block

  • At least a week before the block, tell your doctor what medications you take (including aspirin). Ask whether you should stop taking any of them before treatment.

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or allergic to any medications.

  • Stop eating or drinking 8 hours before you check in for your block.

  • If asked, bring X-rays, MRIs, or other tests with you on the day of the block.

Healthcare provider in lead apron and surgical  gloves giving patient lying on operating table injection in neck.

During the Procedure

To help you relax, your health care provider may give you medication through an IV line. You will lie on an exam table on your stomach, back, or side. This depends on where you will be injected. During your block:

  • The skin over the injection site is cleaned. A local anesthetic (pain medication) numbs the skin.

  • Fluoroscopy (X-ray imaging) may be used to help your doctor see where the medication goes. A contrast “dye” may be added to the medication to help get a better image.

  • A health care provider injects a local anesthetic near the ganglion (cluster of nerves) to numb your nerves. If the sympathetic nerves are causing your problem, the temperature in your hands or feet will rise quickly. The block will relieve your symptoms for a while. Sympathetic nerve blocks may give long-term relief from symptoms. For this treatment, a few blocks are given 1 to 2 weeks apart.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, prolonged hoarseness, or a fever.

After the Procedure

You will stay in recovery for about an hour. Once you can walk, you can go home. Have an adult friend or relative drive you. A neck injection may cause the eyelid on that side of your face to droop a little. Your voice may also be hoarse. These things will go away in a few hours when the anesthetic wears off. Within a day or two, your hand or foot symptoms will most likely return. The injection site may also be swollen and sore for a few days. Your doctor can tell you when it’s okay to return to work.


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