What is the Sympathetic Nervous System?
The sympathetic nervous system that controls our body’s involuntary functions is often identified as a source of chronic leg and back pain. It’s a part of the spinal cord, and as such, transmits signals to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The sympathetic nerves start from the first thoracic vertebra and continue down to the third lumbar vertebra, covering the mid-back region. When there are any strains, injuries, or other problems in this region, the sympathetic nerves carry the pain signals to the brain, leading to chronic leg pain.
What are Sympathetic Blocks?
A sympathetic block is a non-invasive, non-surgical, and non-narcotic treatment for chronic leg pain. If you suffer from injuries, trauma, or medication conditions that affect the sympathetic nervous system, a sympathetic block injection can alleviate the pain. When injected into the regions around the sympathetic nerves, it reduces inflammation and blocks the transmission of pain signals, thereby minimizing or alleviating chronic leg pain.
Sympathetic blocks also serve a diagnostic function — they allow the pain specialist to identify the root cause of leg pain. If the injection works, that’s a clear indication that the correct sympathetic nerve has been chosen. The injection’s failure indicates that another sympathetic nerve is at fault, allowing the pain doctor to modify the treatment. Furthermore, the injection may only alleviate a percentage of the pain, which indicates that more sympathetic nerves need to be addressed.
As such, sympathetic blocks are injectable treatments that identify the problematic nerves and provide instant pain relief.
What Do Sympathetic Blocks Treat?
Sympathetic blocks alleviate chronic leg pain caused by damages, injuries, or other problems associated with the sympathetic nerves — the group of nerves in the mid-back region.
Recovering from Sympathetic Blocks
You’ll experience a warmth spreading down your legs immediately after the treatment. You can return home immediately after the treatment, but you should avoid strenuous activities for the rest of the day. You might experience mild redness and tenderness, but there are no severe side effects or complications. Most patients report immediate relief from chronic leg pain.