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Sympathetic Nerve Diseases - Causes and Treatments

Chronic inflammation of the pancreas is called chronic pancreatitis. This results in attacks of abdominal pain.

Chronic pancreatitis can be treated with celiac plexus blocks and radiofrequency treatments.

Celiac refers to a large area of nerves in the abdomen—pancreas, liver, gall bladder, stomach, and intestine.

After a patient has undergone the proper diagnostic tests (nerve block injections), our doctors educate our patients about radiofrequency lesioning—a procedure that typically results in 12-24 months of pain relief.

Using high-frequency radio waves and heat, our physicians pulse the pain generating nerve. Through this process, the pain sensory on the nerve is de-activated. The nerve is still functioning, but there is no more pain. Most insurance companies will cover this treatment at least once a year.

Celiac refers to a large area of nerves in the abdomen—pancreas, liver, gall bladder, stomach, and intestine.

A nerve block is a diagnosing tool that helps our doctors to know exactly which nerves are causing our patients to feel pain. Our doctors use a live x-ray-type machine (flouroscopy) to see the patients’ bone structures. They are often able to tell, based on the patients’ description, the general area where the pain is being generated. Our physicians select the nerve that is likely the cause of the pain. That nerve is temporarily numbed with lidocaine (the same numbing medication dentists use). The Celiac plexus nerve block is conducted along the lower thoracic spine and blocks the pain signals to the organs.

 

If the patient feels relief for a few hours before the lidocaine effects wear off, then the doctor can likely conclude that the pain generating nerve has been correctly identified. This process is repeated another time, just to assure that the pain relief was not a placebo effect. After two successful nerve blocks, our physicians educate our patients and move on to a more permanent treatment that will likely produce pain relief for 12-24 months—radiofrequency lesioning.

 

After a patient has undergone the proper diagnostic tests (nerve block injections), our doctors educate our patients about radio frequency lesioning—a procedure that typically results in 12-24 months of pain relief.

Using high-frequency radio waves and heat, our physicians pulse the pain generating nerve. Through this process, the pain sensory on the nerve is de-activated. The nerve is still functioning, but there is no more pain. Most insurance companies will cover this treatment at least once a year.

 

An extremely uncommon condition, complex regional pain syndrome typically affects an arm or leg. This syndrome happens often, but not always, after a traumatic event. This condition is normally associated with intense burning or aching pain, swelling, skin discoloration, temperature change, and excessive sweating.  Often, this syndrome is treated with a lumbar sympathetic block, followed by a lumbar sympathetic radiofrequency.

 

Lumbar refers to the area of the back that is situated between the lowest ribs and the pelvis (L1-L5). This procedure is used to treat pain in the arm or leg that occurs after some type of traumatic injury. This pain is referred to as RSD. The pain is burning in nature and can even make the skin sensitive to the touch.

Patients who receive relief from a lumbar sympathetic block (LSB) on two separate occasions are candidates for this procedure. If the LSB is effective in relieving the extremity pain, then the lumbar sympathetic radiofrequency has an 85% chance of completely relieving the pain on a more long-term basis. A small percentage of patients experience a recurrence of symptoms after about 9 months at which time the procedure can be repeated.

These procedures require the use of fluoroscopy for accurate needle placement. The reason to proceed to the sympathetic radiofrequency is to avoid the high cost associated with the use of an operating room. In the past, up to 15 lumbar sympathetic blocks would be done on a given patient in order to abort the pain of RSD. Because the radiofrequency procedure is safe and not higher risk than an LSB, it is to the patient’s and payer’s benefit to proceed immediately with the sympathetic radiofrequency rather than continue performing blocks.

 

The stellate ganglion is a star-shaped body of nerve cells located at the base of the neck. From this body of cells, sympathetic nerve fibers are distributed to the face and neck, as well as to blood vessels and organs of the upper body.

A nerve block is a diagnosing tool that helps our doctors to know exactly which nerves are causing our patients to feel pain. Our doctors use a live x-ray-type machine (flouroscopy) to see the patients’ bone structures. They are often able to tell, based on the patients’ description, the general area where the pain is being generated. Our physicians select the nerve that is likely the cause of the pain. That nerve is temporarily numbed with lidocaine (the same numbing medication dentists use).

If the patient feels relief for a few hours before the lidocaine effects wear off, then the doctor can likely conclude that the pain generating nerve has been correctly identified. This process is repeated another time, just to assure that the pain relief was not a placebo effect. After two successful nerve blocks, our physicians educate our patients and move on to a more permanent treatment that will likely produce pain relief for 12-24 months—radiofrequency lesioning.

 

The stellate ganglion is a star-shaped body of nerve cells located at the base of the neck. From this body of cells, sympathetic nerve fibers are distributed to the face and neck, as well as to blood vessels and organs of the upper body.

After a patient has undergone the proper diagnostic tests (stellate ganglion block injections), our doctors educate our patients about radiofrequency lesioning—a procedure that typically results in 12-24 months of pain relief.

Using high-frequency radio waves and heat, our physicians pulse the pain generating nerve. Through this process, the pain sensory on the nerve is de-activated. The nerve is still functioning, but there is no more pain. Most insurance companies will cover this treatment at least once a year.

Once the procedure has been completed, our physicians usually recommend a course of physical therapy to prevent recurrence of the condition.

 

Sympathetic pertains to the sympathetic nervous system or one of its nerves. This nervous system is responsible for regulating our heart rate, breathing and other bodily functions that are not usually under our conscious control. Sometimes this nervous system malfunctions and causes a burning pain in an arm or leg. A sympathetic block is used to alleviate this type of pain.

A ganglion is a mass of cell bodies.

A nerve block is a diagnosing tool that helps our doctors to know exactly which nerves are causing our patients to feel pain. Our doctors use a live x-ray-type machine (flouroscopy) to see the patients’ bone structures. They are often able to tell, based on the patients’ description, the general area where the pain is being generated. Our physicians select the nerve that is likely the cause of the pain. That nerve is temporarily numbed with lidocaine (the same numbing medication dentists use).

If the patient feels relief for a few hours before the lidocaine effects wear off, then the doctor can likely conclude that the pain generating nerve has been correctly identified. This process is repeated another time, just to assure that the pain relief was not a placebo effect. After two successful nerve blocks, our physicians educate our patients and move on to a more permanent treatment that will likely produce pain relief for 12-24 months—radiofrequency lesioning.

 

Nexus Pain Specialists


3585 N University Ave,  Suite 150, Provo, UT 84604 • Phone: 801-356-6100 • Fax: 801-356-2113
1575 West 7000 South, West Jordan, UT 84084 • Phone: 801-833-6569