25 Aug What Exactly is a Stellate Ganglion Block?
The stellate ganglion block is a procedure that utilizes numbing medications injected into the neck in order to numb the stellate ganglion, a cluster of sympathetic nerves located in the neck at the C7 level vertebra. This procedure is performed either as a diagnostic tool to locate the cause of pain, or therapeutically to treat for pain.
What conditions can be treated with the stellate ganglion block?
- Shingles (herpes zoster)
- Chest, arm, head, face, and neck pain related to neuropathy
- Reduce profuse sweating of the hands, arms, face, and head
- CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome)
- RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy)
- Sympathetic maintained pain
What should the patient expect when undergoing this procedure?
When properly diagnosed, symptoms of conditions treated with a stellate ganglion block are generally controlled successfully. The majority of patients that receive the procedure typically experience lowered pain levels, many significantly.
The success of the procedure cannot be anticipated, however, as different patients respond differently to the medications used, therefore patients may experience differing levels of relief.
How is a stellate ganglion block performed?
The patient is usually placed flat on his or her back with the head tilted slightly back to allow the easiest access to the injection location. Patients may be sedated if necessary and their vital signs are monitored. The target area is cleaned with antiseptic solution and then numbed with a topical anesthetic.
Then with the aid of a fluoroscope, (a type of x-ray machine that allows the Chicago pain management doctor to see the needle being inserted in real time), to ensure proper needle placement the doctor inserts a thin needle. A mixture of local anesthetic and corticosteroids is then injected.
The patient often experiences immediate relief due to the local anesthetic but this wears off quickly, usually within twenty four hours. It then may take up to three days for the steroid medication to take effect, but when it begins to work relief may be provided for up to several weeks.
How long do the effects of the treatments last?
As stated above, temporary relief will often be felt from the local anesthetic but this will wear off within a day. The steroid medications take longer to take effect, but then they can provide relief for an extended period of time, often for several months after repeated injections.
What risk or side effects are possible with this treatment?
Risks are minimal and include slight bruising, swelling, and bleeding at the injection site. More severe side effects are very rare but occasionally occur. These include damage to a nerve, puncturing a blood vessel or artery. Normal side effects that may occur but are temporary include:
- Reddening of the eyes
- Stuffed nasal passages
- Raw/sore throat and hoarseness
- “Lump” in throat
- Impaired swallowing
- Droopy eyelids
- A feeling of warmness or tingling in the hands or arms
How successful are these injections for the relief of pain?
When used diagnostically the procedure may or may not provide relief from symptoms, however, if the diagnosis is correct they will. The larger majority of patients who receive these injections therapeutically will experience some level of relief from their symptoms, however the level of relief cannot be anticipated as each patient responds differently to the medications used and each patients’ condition is unique.
What is the bottom line on this procedure?
When patients receive these injections most find an exceptional level of relief, if you think you would like to try this procedure to treat your condition discuss with your pain management doctor in Chicago at Premier Pain & Spine whether or not you would benefit from the treatment.