If you’re struggling with chronic pain, a nerve block could ease your discomfort and restore your quality of life. Nerve blocks interrupt the signal from the treated nerve to the brain, reducing your pain experience so you can resume the activities you enjoy.
At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, our providers use both peripheral nerve blocks and autonomic nerve blocks to address pain caused by different underlying conditions.
Here’s a closer look at autonomic nerve blocks, the different types that exist, and whether this minimally invasive therapy could be right for you.
What are autonomic nerve blocks?
Your nervous system is made up of two main parts: Your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and all the neurons outside these structures (peripheral nervous system). Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is part of your peripheral nervous system.
The ANS is responsible for unconscious bodily processes, like your heartbeat and respiration. You don’t notice or think about these things happening because your ANS makes sure your systems are working, even when you’re sleeping.
By taking information from other parts of your body and your environment, your ANS regulates these functions. But if you have an injury, disease, or condition that affects an organ or the associated neurons, your ANS may send pain signals to your brain.
Autonomic nerve blocks interrupt the transmission of these pain signals, providing relief from both chronic and short-term pain. Our skilled doctors may also use autonomic nerve blocks diagnostically, to identify which nerves or organs are involved with your condition.
Are all autonomic nerve blocks the same?
No. Several different types of nerve blocks exist. Some of the most common include:
- Stellate ganglion block to ease pain in the neck, head, upper arms, and upper chest
- Celiac plexus block to ease pain from abdominal pain and some back pain
- Lumbar sympathetic block to ease low back pain and leg pain
- Hypogastric block to ease genitourinary and reproductive organ pain
- Ganglion impair block to ease lower pelvic or groin pain
Depending on your underlying condition and the location of your pain, your provider recommends the right one for you.
Is an autonomic nerve block right for me?
It depends. Nerve blocks can be a useful way to manage chronic pain and short-term pain. They can also be used to diagnose pain with an unknown cause.
The best way to learn if an autonomic nerve block is the best way to manage your condition is by scheduling a consultation with an expert at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists.
Your provider reviews your medical history and current symptoms, discusses your goals, and evaluates your overall health before creating a personalized treatment plan for you.
If you are a candidate for an autonomic nerve block, know the procedures are relatively safe and you can typically go home after your treatment. Most patients can resume normal activities after a day or so of rest.
Side effects are typically minimal and depend somewhat on the location of the block but may include:
- Temporary soreness
- Feeling of warmth at the site
- Feelings of weakness
- Voice changes, trouble swallowing (stellate ganglion blocks)
- Droopy eyelids (stellate ganglion blocks)
If you’re struggling with pain, learn if an autonomic nerve block can help. Talk to an expert at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Northern Virginia by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone today.