Sympathetic blocks for pain

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:

  1. Sensitize painful nerve endings
  2. Widen arteries causing redness & swelling
  3. Activate dendritic cells causing inflammation

Benefits of sympathetic blocks

  1. Reduction of pain, redness & swelling
  2. Temporarily break sympathetic nerve contribution to the chronic pain cycle to promote participation in complete pain care

Risks of sympathetic blocks

  1. Possible non-response or pain exacerbation
  2. Other risks depend on the location. Image guidance for procedure is necessary.
  3. Be aware of exclusive focus on procedures without physical therapy & psychology.

Sympathetic & CRPS

Dr. Ming Kao View All →

Pain physician & PhD computational biologist @StanfordPain • Advanced pain interventions with CIPS & FIPP • Opinions mine & not medical advice