Effect of stellate ganglion blockade on normal touch and temperature perception in the upper extremity and face

J. P. Hatch, S. Ramamurthy, J. Hoffman, P. E. Pergola, J. M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The sympathetic nervous system is not known to mediate touch, temperature, or pain sensation in humans. Yet, the treatment for sympathetically maintained pain [SMP] often involves local anesthetic or regional blockade of the efferent sympathetic supply to the affected area. This study sought to measure sensory function in healthy humans before and after anesthetic sympathetic block. Methods: Thresholds for touch, heat, heat pain detection and tolerance were determined quantitatively on the face and upper extremities of 5 healthy subjects before and after unilateral anesthetic blockade of the stellate ganglion. Finger blood flow and the vasoconstrictor responses to the cold pressor test and to a deep breath were measured to assure the efficacy of the block. Results: Finger blood flow rose to 370% of the pre-block control value, and vasoconstrictor responses were markedly attenuated by the block. However, touch, heat, and heat pain perception were not measurably altered in the hand or the face. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the interaction between the sympathetic nervous system and sensory function in SMP is initiated by the injury rather than representing a heightened sensitivity of a normally existing relationship. The sympathetic nervous system probably is not involved in touch or heat sensation in the skin of normal humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-124
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Pain
Volume3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

Keywords

  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • finger skin blood flow
  • skin conductance
  • skin temperature
  • sympathetically maintained pain
  • temperature sensation
  • touch sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology

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