FAQs on Stellate Ganglion Blocks
What is a stellate ganglion block?
When your Chicago pain doctor injects a local anesthetic around your neck’s sympathetic nerves (part of your sympathetic nervous system) located on either side of the voice box, that is a stellate ganglion block. This procedure will simply block the sympathetic nerves leading to the patient’s arms and face.
The main purpose is to reduce swelling and pain and improve a patient’s mobility. Usually a stellate ganglion block is performed on patients suffering from RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Sympathetic Maintained Pain or Herpes Zoster, and it usually involves the head, face or one of the arms.
How is a stellate ganglion block performed?
During the procedure, the patient will be asked to sit up, chin raised and turned away from the side that is injected. Monitoring devices will constantly check your vital signs, such as blood pressure and oxygen levels. You will also be asked to hold in your hands various temperature sensing probes. The target area to be injected is in front of the neck, located next to the voice box.
The injection takes only a few short minutes and contains a local anesthetic mixed with steroid medication that plays a role in prolonging the effects of the block. If you respond well to the initial injection, then it’s recommended that you follow up and repeat the procedure, because it usually takes a number of injections to treat your pain. This number varies from patient to patient, and it can be as less as two, or as much as 10, or even more.
What can I expect after the procedure?
Right after the injection, your arm will warm up a bit and your pain should decrease in intensity. Other effects may include: hoarse voice, red droopy eyes, lump feeling in the throat, nasal congestion, sometimes you might even get a headache, but it’s quite rare.
It’s quite advisable to take some time and relax for the rest of the day, and it’s very important to remember you are not allowed to drive, so please make sure you secure a ride home.
Pain relief varies in patients, but approximately 40% report complete symptom relief. An additional 36% report partial symptom relief. Several injections with a Chicago pain management clinic may be necessary over time to get the best results.