The sympathetic nervous system lets the brain control the organs to maintain overall balance of body systems. In many chronic pain conditions, it worsens inflammation & pain; in some, they even become pathologic. Sympathetic blocks help reduce these effects.
Sympathetically Maintained Pain
Sympathetic nerves release norepinephrine and:
- Sensitize painful nerve endings
- Widen arteries causing redness & swelling
- Activate dendritic cells causing inflammation
Benefits of sympathetic blocks
- Reduction of pain, redness & swelling
- Temporarily break sympathetic nerve contribution to the chronic pain cycle to promote participation in complete pain care
Risks of sympathetic blocks
- Possible non-response or pain exacerbation
- Other risks depend on the location. Image guidance for procedure is necessary.
- Be aware of exclusive focus on procedures without physical therapy & psychology.