Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a minimally invasive intervention involving injecting a local anesthetic medication near the stellate ganglion, a collection of nerves in the neck. The stellate ganglion is part of the sympathetic nervous system, which plays a role in pain transmission. 

Blocking the nerve signals in the stellate ganglion can relieve pain and alleviate symptoms associated with certain conditions. The procedure is typically performed under fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance to ensure accurate needle placement. 

The anesthetic medication used in the block temporarily interrupts the sympathetic nerve activity, thereby reducing pain and improving blood flow to the affected area. 

Stellate ganglion blocks are commonly used to manage chronic pain conditions involving the head, neck, and upper extremities, such as:

At Spinal Diagnostics, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and personalized care to patients with spinal health issues.

Understanding Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a medical procedure that involves injecting a local anesthetic medication near the stellate ganglion. 

The stellate ganglion is a cluster of nerves in the neck's lower section. The primary purpose of a Stellate Ganglion Block is to alleviate pain and provide therapeutic relief for conditions affecting the head, neck, and upper extremities.

The stellate ganglion transmits sympathetic nerve signals to different parts of the head, neck, and upper extremities. It regulates blood flow, temperature control, sweating, and pain sensation in these areas.

When the stellate ganglion becomes hyperactive or dysregulated, it can lead to abnormal pain perception and various pain syndromes. 

A Stellate Ganglion Block works by temporarily interrupting the transmission of pain signals in the stellate ganglion, thereby reducing pain and promoting healing in the affected areas. 

Conditions Treated with Stellate Ganglion Block

Stellate ganglion blocks are used to manage chronic pain conditions that affect the head, neck, and upper extremities. These conditions may include:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): A chronic pain syndrome characterized by intense, prolonged pain, swelling, changes in skin temperature, and abnormal sweating in a specific body region. It is usually seen following an injury or trauma.
  • Post-herpetic Neuralgia: Persistent nerve pain that occurs after a shingles infection. It is characterized by severe burning or shooting pain in the area where the shingles rash was present.
  • Sympathetic-mediated pain: Pain resulting from abnormal sympathetic nervous system activity, which can lead to symptoms such as chronic neck pain, upper extremity pain, and vascular or neuropathic symptoms.

Stellate ganglion blocks can provide targeted pain relief and help improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from these conditions. However, it's essential to consult a medical professional to determine whether the procedure suits you and discuss the potential benefits and risks.

Stellate Ganglion Block Procedure

Before the Procedure

A stellate ganglion block (SGB) is aimed to alleviate pain in the head, neck, upper arm, and upper chest. Before the procedure, your healthcare provider will thoroughly assess whether SGB is the appropriate treatment for your symptoms.

Patients with conditions such as osteoporosis or spinal fractures may require alternative treatment options, as SGB might not be the most optimal solution for such conditions.

The initial consultation will typically include the following elements:

Medical History: A comprehensive review of your medical history helps your doctor understand any previous health issues that might affect your suitability for the procedure or potential risk factors.

Physical Examination: Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, primarily focusing on your spine, neck, and possibly your legs. This examination helps to pinpoint any specific physical issues that might need to be addressed during the procedure.

Digital Imaging: Digital imaging, including X-rays and MRI scans, is often used to get a clearer picture of your anatomical structures. These scans provide critical information about the affected areas and further aid in treatment planning.

During the Procedure

During the stellate ganglion procedure, your doctor will perform the following steps:

  1. Administration of local anesthesia: Before the stellate ganglion block, the area where the injection will be given is numbed with a local anesthetic. This helps minimize discomfort during the procedure.
  2. Guidance technique (fluoroscopy or ultrasound): Your doctor will use either fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray) or ultrasound imaging to guide the needle placement accurately. This ensures precise localization of the stellate ganglion.
  3. Needle insertion and localization of the stellate ganglion: A thin needle is carefully inserted into the targeted area. The healthcare provider uses imaging guidance to locate the stellate ganglion and correctly position the needle.
  4. Injection of anesthetic medication: Once the needle is in the correct position, the anesthetic medication is injected around the stellate ganglion. The medication temporarily blocks the nerve signals and relieves pain in the affected area.
  5. Post-procedure observation and recovery: After the injection, your status will be monitored briefly to ensure stability and assess immediate response. You may be advised to rest and avoid strenuous activities for a short period following the procedure. You will also be provided information on specific post-procedure instructions and follow-up appointments.

After the Procedure

Following the procedure, your doctor may advise you to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or any activities that may interfere with your spinal mobility. Depending on your body's reaction, you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory and non-opioid pain medications to manage discomfort.

Benefits of Stellate Ganglion Block

Stellate ganglion blocks have effectively reduced neck pain symptoms as it temporarily interrupts the transmission of pain signals, providing relief and improving overall comfort. Reduced pain increases mobility, improves sleep, and contributes to a quality of life, allowing you to perform your daily activities easily.

Pain Reduction: SGB works effectively by temporarily interrupting the transmission of pain signals from the affected area to the brain. This interruption significantly reduces pain symptoms, providing immediate relief and enhancing overall comfort.

Improved Mobility: With decreased pain levels, you can often move more freely without discomfort or restraint. This improved mobility allows for increased activity levels and the capability to perform exercises that may aid in rehabilitation or managing chronic conditions.

Enhanced Sleep Quality: Chronic pain often disrupts sleep patterns, making it hard for you to achieve restorative sleep. By reducing pain, SGB can contribute to improved sleep quality, which is essential to the body's healing process and overall well-being.

Quality of Life: SGB alleviates physical pain and contributes positively to one’s emotional health. Reduced pain increases your ability to engage in daily activities, improves mood, combats anxiety and depression related to chronic pain, and enhances overall quality of life.

Fast and Long-Lasting Relief: With SGB, you can often experience immediate relief following the procedure. Moreover, these benefits can extend over substantial periods, providing long-term benefits for managing chronic pain.

May Reduce Symptoms of PTSD: Emerging research suggests that SGB may also be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although more research is necessary in this area, it opens up new potential applications for SGB.

Risks and Potential Side Effects of Ganglion Block

Some side effects that may appear after the procedure include decreased sweating, a drooping eyelid, or changes in your voice. These are usually temporary and do not need medical assessment.

Although rare, some possible complications include infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. These are very infrequent when performed by skilled professionals. However, if you experience any of these side effects, they must be immediately addressed since they could lead to a more serious condition.

If you have any questions regarding the risks or complications of the Stellate Ganglion Block procedure, do not hesitate to contact our team.

Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment in Tualatin and Newberg in Oregon

At Spinal Diagnostics, we focus on spinal and neuropathic pain management. Our team of specialists are recognized leaders in clinical research and offer you updated diagnostic processes and treatment options. 

We have dedicated our practice to improving our patient’s quality of life without using opiate medications or traditional spine surgery. Over ten years of experience makes us the top choice for those with back and neck pain

If you want to learn more about stellate ganglion block, call us, schedule an appointment online, or visit our locations in Tualatin and Newberg, Oregon. 

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