What is a Sympathetic Block? How does it work?

This injection is given to a targeted area near the Sympathetic nerves, which are located on either side of the spine. This type of block is given to relieve symptoms associated with injury, and is placed according to a patient’s need at the suspected source of pain. A successful Diagnostic block will give a patient short-term relief, but determines that the injection site is the correct placement for a Therapeutic block, which will provide longer lasting results.

Benefits from a Sympathetic Block

This treatment allows patients to return to a normal level of daily activity for up to one year. It is a quick out-patient procedure that only takes a few minutes. Depending on the severity and condition that is causing pain, a patient may need multiple or more frequent block treatments.

When will I see results?

During a Diagnostic block it is normal to feel immediate relief after the procedure because of the anesthetic that is given, however this relief will wear off within several hours. This confirms the block was given at the correct site. Following a Therapeutic block, patients can expect to see longer-lasting relief.


BEFORE: It is recommended that arrangements are made for transportation home post-procedure. Many patients feel short-term weakness in the legs that can make leaving a doctor’s office unsafe.

PROCEDURE: The injection site is prepared and sanitized, and a mild sedative is given to maximize patient comfort. The area is then numbed with local anesthetic and your doctor will use guiding equipment to place the needle in the correct position. To confirm the correct location a contrast dye is injected and upon confirmation the medication is also injected. The needle is then slowly removed and a bandage placed. Before being released your doctor may discuss a timeline of physical limitations to allow maximum absorption of medication in the area.

Risk Factors

There is a risk of complication with any medical procedure. Take time to discuss treatment options and any questions you may have with your physician, before agreeing with a procedure.