The chronic pain caused by RSD can sometimes be addressed by medication alone. However, in cases that progress into latter stages of severity where pain is intense and ongoing, a complementary approach to treatment can be pursued. One option a doctor may present to a patient is for a sympathetic nerve block as a component of pain treatment. A nerve block relieves pain by blocking pain signals transmitted between extremities and the brain. It is done by injecting a pain-killer into or around a nerve or into the spine.
Nerve blocks are typically used to treat chronic pain when drugs or other treatments do not control pain or cause bad side effects. A test block is usually performed with local anesthetic. If a positive result is achieved with the use of anesthetic, a doctor may inject a nerve block, such as alcohol or phenol. Nerve blocks numb the nerves touched by the drugs. This relieves pain by interrupting the pain signal sent by the nerves to the brain. Depending on the type of nerve block, pain may be numbed for a short time or a long time. Nerve blocks for treatment of chronic pain caused by RSD and CRPS may work for 6 to 12 months and may have to be repeated.
Nerve blocks can cause serious complications, so it is important to work with a doctor that can fully explain all the potential risks and benefits so that you can make an informed treatment decision.
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