Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion nerve block is an injection that numbs branches of nerves in your neck. This helps doctors find and treat many problems linked to the nerves. Treatment may require a series of injections.

What You Need To Know About Stellate Ganglion Blocks

What is a Stellate Ganglion Block?

The stellate ganglion is a part of your nervous system situated on both sides of your larynx. While these nerves are not associated with movement or feeling, irritation can cause complications. Injury to the stellate ganglion block by trauma or infections can cause its nerves incredible pain.

However, a physician can help offset the pain by halting the stellate ganglion nerve's activity. A stellate ganglion block refers to injecting a local numbing anesthetic directly into the sympathetic nerves in the neck. This numbing agent stops the pain signals from the affected nerve. The procedure helps reduce chronic pain and swelling and increase circulation in the head, neck, and upper body. The procedure can be therapeutic (as a treatment) or diagnostic (as an exploration of cause.)

Anatomy of the Stellate Ganglion Nerves

Stellate ganglion nerves are part of the sympathetic nervous system in front of the vertebrae. The nerves travel along both sides of the spine and support unconscious bodily functions, including blushing, heart rate, sweating, and pupil dilation. Trauma may impair the stellate ganglion nerves and cause compromised functionality or pain.

The stellate ganglion consists of two parts: the inferior cervical ganglion and the first thoracic ganglion fusion. They are located near the C6 and C7 vertebral region near the medial or posterior vertebral artery. A physician will inject a stellate ganglion block between the C6 and C7 vertebrae.

Book an appointment with a Resurgens Orthopaedics physician today to learn more about stellate ganglion blocks and other pain relieving options.

Why is a Stellate Ganglion Block Performed?

A doctor will recommend a stellate ganglion block injection for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To diagnose or relieve the source of complex regional pain syndrome
  • Causalgia (nerve injury)
  • Herpes zoster infection or shingles
  • Intractable angina pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart
  • To improve blood flow for patients with vascular diseases
  • Phantom limb pain
  • To reduce sweat around the face, head, arms, or hands

How to Prepare for a Stellate Ganglion Block

To prepare for a stellate ganglion block injection, patients should not eat or drink after midnight the night before the appointment. Patients should discuss with their physicians any special accommodations for the procedure, such as conscious sedation. A physician can administer medication to help a patient relax for a better experience.

The procedure typically takes 15-30 minutes, and the patient will stay in a recovery area for an additional 15 minutes following the injection. Patients should wear loose, comfortable clothing and arrive 30-45 minutes before the scheduled procedure time.

What Happens During a Stellate Ganglion Block?

To start the procedure, the patient will lie on their back. A physician will cleanse the treated neck area with antiseptic soap, administer a numbing anesthetic, and locate the injection point. The doctor will use a fluoroscope to confirm the best position for the needle along with contrast dye.

The physician will administer the stellate ganglion block injection to reduce inflammation and monitor bodily response to confirm a correct diagnosis. The patient will continue to lie down for 10-20 minutes after the doctor removes the needle. They will bandage the injection site and monitor the patient briefly before they can leave the hospital.

Are there Risks Associated with a Stellate Ganglion Block?

A stellate ganglion block injection has a low risk of surgical complications. Potential risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Temporary numbness in the arms or neck
  • Temporary weakness from the neck down
  • Nerve damage
  • Bruising near the injection site
  • Drooping eyelids or bloodshot eyes
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Infection

Post Stellate Ganglion Block & Recovery

Recovery from a post stellate ganglion injection will come with some temporary effects following the procedure. The injection site may feel numb, warm, or tingly, and the patient's voice will feel hoarse. The patient may also have nasal congestion and bloodshot eyes for several hours following the treatment. Patients should not eat or drink for around four hours after the procedure as the anesthetic wears off.

A friend or relative should drive the patient home. The patient should relax and take it easy for 24 hours before returning to normal daily activities. As the patient begins to feel their voice return to normal, they may start sipping water through a straw and begin eating solid foods.

Learn more about stellate ganglion blocks by booking an appointment with the spine experts at Resurgens Orthopaedics.

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