A stellate ganglion block is a standard treatment for patients who experience pain due to shingles and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS.) It is best for those who feel CRPS that affects the head, face, arms, or neck. The stellate ganglion block treatment itself is a series of injections that aim to diagnose and treat pain coming from the sympathetic nerves. It does so by “blocking” the sympathetic nerve signals that cause pain toward the affected area. Blocking can reduce swelling, pain, and color changes as well as improve mobility.
Process of Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment
When you come in for a stellate ganglion block, you will lie on a table that is equipped with a special fluoroscopic x-ray. An IV line will be administered that contains medication to help you relax during the treatment. Because the treatment involves injections, a needle will puncture the skin several times, but the surgeon will provide a local anesthetic that numbs that skin and tissue down to the ganglion nerves.
Once the anesthetic and IV line is administered, the physician injects a contrast solution that allows him to confirm the area that the pain signals are coming from with the fluoroscope x-ray. Once he confirms the location, a new injection is performed, containing a mixture of saline, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory medicine. This mixture surrounds the ganglion nerves and acts as the wall that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.
What to Expect After a Stellate Ganglion Block
There are some common side effects associated with the stellate ganglion block, including:
- Bloodshot, Droopy Eye on Side of Injection
- Hoarse Voice
- Nasal Congestion
- Warm, Tingling Feeling on Arm
These side effects typically last no longer than a day. Patients are advised to avoid any strenuous work the day of the treatment and should have someone drive them home afterward. Most patients can go back to work the day after they visit the pain clinic. Like any treatment, the stellate ganglion block is not the perfect solution for every patient. If you are experiencing chronic pain and are looking for treatment in New Jersey, a pain expert can help advise you on the best path to take. Garden State Pain Center’s doctors have over 50 years of combined experience in the field; contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about pain relief options.