Stellate Ganglion Block
What is a Stellate Ganglion Block?
Stellate ganglion block is useful for treating and/or diagnosing a number of painful conditions. It is the injection of local anesthetic into the area of a specialized nerve structure. The injection blocks sympathetic nerves. If these nerves are responsible for transmission of pain, the pain will be reduced after the injection. We perform this procedure for patients with pain in the face, neck, arms and chest as part of your pain management treatment plan.
What are the stellate ganglion nerves?
The stellate ganglion is a collection of sympathetic nerves at the 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae. These are the last vertebrae’s of the neck, so right before the thoracic section of the spine starts. Usually the reason they can cause pain is by trauma, or sometimes infection. In a typical healthy body the stellate ganglion nerve collection are part of the sympathetic nervous system to the face and arms, and aren’t involved with feeling or movement.
How is a Stellate Ganglion Injection performed?
The procedure is done with the patient laying flat. The heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. An intravenous is started and medication for sedation may be given. The landmarks in the neck are identified then the skin in the front of the neck is cleaned. After this, the injection is performed using a small needle.
What medication is injected?
We inject a local anesthetic like lidocaine or bupivicaine.
How much time does the procedure take?
The whole procedure takes 15-20 minutes, the actual injection takes a few minutes.
How long does the effect last?
It depends on your response. Pain relief may be short lived or long lasting.
How many times do I need the injection?
After a successful response, we may recommend a series of three or more injections.
What are the risks of a stellate ganglion block procedure?
The risks and possible nerve block side effects include: infection, bleeding, stroke, worse pain, nerve injury, allergy to medication, bruising at the injection site, collapsed lung, seizure, permanent facial droop, temporary numbness of the neck and arm, and temporary hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
Who should not have the SGB injection?
If you are taking blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, Ticlid or others) or antibiotics, have an active infection, or have a bleeding disorder you should not have the procedure without further discussion. Please warn us of any allergies you have, especially to local anesthetics, X-ray dye and latex.
How long does a cervical nerve block last?
The nerve blocking shot is meant to reduce the pain that is coming from that particular set of nerves, so the cervical nerve block at the location of the stellate ganglion can be short lived, about 36 hours, or longer lasting depending on the patient. As with most numbing sensations, the feeling will slowly come back over that period of time, and if the pain stopped as a result of the nerve block it can be concluded that the pain is coming from that group of nerves. The procedure is low risk and can be repeated to address pain as needed.
Are pain blocker injections right for you?
If you experience pain in the face, neck, arms, or chest, stellate ganglion block injections can be very helpful in addressing that pain. You’ll have to discuss all your symptoms, any additional medications, and lifestyle choices with your doctor in order to determine what kind of pain management is best for you. A nerve blocking injection can be a beneficial alternative to spine surgery, or pain medication, and has advantages over both. Inflammation or damage to nerves in the neck can cause debilitating pain, so removing that pain from a person’s life can restore quality of life each day.