Spinal Injections 101 – Stellate Ganglion Block

Category: Injections | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Spinal Block Injection

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve explained the process and the purpose of a number of different injections. We’ve already explained radiofrequency ablation and sacroiliac joint injections, but today we want to take a second to explain stellate ganglion blocks. So below, we explain why you may need a stellate ganglion block, and what you can expect from the procedure.

Stellate Ganglion Block Basics

A stellate ganglion block is an injection that is placed into the sympathetic nerve tissue in a patient’s neck. The goal of the stellate ganglion block is to provide relief and block signals from the sympathetic nerves that run to a person’s arms and sometimes their face. The block is recommended for some individuals suffering from nerve pain in the arm, as well as individuals suffering from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Sympathetic Maintained Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and for some cases of Herpes Zoster of the arm and face.

The injection is rather basic, as it is comprised of a local anesthetic agent. Sometimes epinephrine or a steroid medication may be added to the injection in order to prolong the effects of the block.

How Is A Stellate Ganglion Block Performed?

The injection procedure for a stellate ganglion block is rather simple. The operation begins by inserting intravenous sedation to put the patient in a relaxed state and to help with the pain from the needle, which is typically described as minor to mild discomfort. Once the sedation is in order the patient will have the injection site numbed with a local anesthetic while seated. The surgeon will ask the patient to tilt their head up and tilt it slightly away from the side undergoing the injection. Patients are monitored with an EKG, a blood pressure cuff and oxygen-monitoring throughout this entire process.

Once all is in order, the surgeon will administer the injection into the injection site in your neck. This process only takes a couple of minutes, and afterwards you may feel a numbing or warm sensation in your arm on the side where the injection was administered. Some patients do not have much recollection of the injection because they were given a larger dose of intravenous sedation based on their pain tolerance. Since you may not feel back to normal for a little while after the injection, it is recommended that you have a ride home from the clinic after the injection. Barring specific instructions from your doctor, you should be able to return to work the next day.

Stellate Ganglion Block Risks

As with any injection, there are some minor risks. In rare cases, a person may experience:

  • Headache after the injection
  • Temporary pain at the injection site
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia

Minor pain at the site of the injection is the most common complication, but the other risks are rare and carefully accounted for by the surgical team. For more information on the block, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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