Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Stellate Ganglion Blocks

A stellate ganglion block is an injection administered in the front of the neck into the “stellate ganglion” bundle of nerves that carry pain and pressure signals from the upper extremities. In some cases, a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD), a chronic arm or leg pain developing after injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack, can be treated by injecting a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion to help identify whether or not this pain is carried by the sympathetic nervous system.

A stellate ganglion block is used to diagnose or treat circulation problems or nerve injuries, including:

  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Causalgia
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome type I or II
  • Shingles (Herpes zoster infection) affecting the head, neck, arm or upper chest
  • Phantom limb pain

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How do Stellate Ganglion Blocks work?

Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Stellate Ganglion Blocks can be used as a diagnostic procedure as well as treatment. Using a trial, physicians are able to tell that if the pain remains post-block then the true problem can be identified. If the pain is resolved instantly, the problem was due to nerve communications.

  1. Skin temperature trackers are placed in the patient’s hands.
  2. You are requested to lie on your stomach to the ceiling.
  3. A general anesthetic is given using a needle to numb the neck.
  4. The needle is applied to the nerves of the Stellate Ganglia.
  5. A fluoroscope is used (similar to an X-Ray) to guide the physician to the correct nerve region that is causing pain and discomfort.
  6. The entire procedure should take around 40 minutes (10 minutes for the injection and 20 for the medication to come into effect.)
  7. There will be follow-up sessions, which you must attend to check how your body is reacting to the new medication.

The Benefits of Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Typically, recovery time is fast with side effects disappearing after a few hours – therefore you can return to work the next day. However, everyone is different and some people may have side effects for longer than a few hours.

Some people only need 4 injections before the pain is gone completely. It seems that these injections are solving the root of the problem.

There are very little amounts of pain during the injection because an anesthetic is given. In some cases, patients can request sedation, which would make the process a lot easier to tackle.

Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Side Effects of a Stellate Ganglion Block

There are some serious side effects including seizures and fits – however, this can only occur at the fault of the physician (if a blood vessel is targeted instead of a nerve.)  Also, allergies to the medication can be serious however a consultation with a doctor is required before undergoing the Stellate Ganglion procedure.

Common side effects include:

  • Blood shot eye(s)
  • Blocked or stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • A “tingly” sensation in the arm
  • Loss of voice
  • Droopy Eyes

These side effects should only last for a maximum of 24 hours post-surgery.

Candidates for a Stellate Ganglion Block

Those that have chronic or lasting nerve pain in the head, neck, upper arm or upper chest that has not been reduced or eliminated through other pain management procedures, they are likely a candidate for a Stellate Ganglion Block.

If you’re not sure if this procedure is right for you, consult the pain experts here at Pegasus Pain Management to discuss your unique situation. Use the contact form or call us at (214) 702-5855 today.