Spine Animations

Spine Animations

Tip of the Week

Poor posture can damage the spine and its associated muscles and ligaments. A hunched stance places abnormal stress on muscles and ligaments, causes backache and fatigue, and can even cause the spine to become fixed in an abnormal position.

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Stellate Ganglion Block

Stellate Ganglion Block

A Stellate Ganglion Block is a Pain Management procedure used to treat the pain carried by sympathetic nerves. This type of block involves an injection of local anesthetic in the sympathetic nerve tissue of your neck. These nerves are located on either side of your voice box.

A Stellate Ganglion Block interrupts the sympathetic nerves that serve your arms and to some degree, your face. Blocking these nerves may reduce pain and swelling, as well as improve your mobility.

Overview

This injection can both diagnose and treat pain coming from the sympathetic nerves in your neck. A Stellate Ganglion Block is a common treatment for shingles and complex regional pain syndromes affecting your head, face, neck or arms. Usually, you need a series of these injections to treat your problem. The procedure is described below. Discuss your risks and expectations with your doctor.

1. Preparing for the Procedure

You must lie on an X-ray table on your back. Your doctor connects an intravenous (IV) line to you to administer medication that relaxes you. A local anesthetic numbs the skin and tissue down to the ganglion nerves, as shown in illustration 1.

2. Injecting the Contrast Dye

Your physician uses a fluoroscope to slide a needle through the anesthetized track. He then injects a contrast solution, which shows up easily on the fluoroscope, so he can identify the painful areas and confirm the correct location of the needle tip. See illustration 2.

3. Injecting the Medication

Next, as shown in illustration 3, the doctor injects a mixture of anesthetic, saline and anti-inflammatory medicine around the ganglion nerves. These drugs work to block the pain signals from reaching your brain.

4. Recovering from the Procedure

Once he removes the needle, the physician applies a small bandage to the surface wound. If the first injection alleviates your pain, you can have additional injections over time. Pain relief typically lasts longer after each injection.

Common side effects include nasal congestion and a bloodshot, droopy eye on the side of the injection. Additionally, your voice may be temporarily hoarse, and you may feel a warm, tingling sensation in your arm and hand. These symptoms usually disappear after several hours.

More Information

Contact us to learn more about the Stellate Ganglion Block procedure.

For information about the safety of the treatments at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI), refer to the Spinal Injections Safety report.

For more information about nerve blocks and epidurals, refer to SSI’s Block Suite.

Find out more about SSI’s Pain Management procedures.