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Stellate Ganglion Blocks

FAQs on Stellate Ganglion Blocks for PTSD, CRPS, Phantom Limb Pain and More

 

A stellate ganglion block is used to treat pain and sympathetic nervous system symptoms of the head, neck, upper arms, or chest. This interventional pain management procedure is a minimally-invasive technique that offers long-term symptom relief.

What is the stellate ganglion block?

The stellate ganglion is a nerve bundle located on either side of the larynx. These nerves are involved in sweating, blood pressure, skin temperature, and other sympathetic nervous system activities.

What conditions are treated using the stellate ganglion block?

Conditions treated using the stellate ganglion block include:

  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Shingles/herpes zoster
  • Causalgia
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

How do I prepare for the stellate ganglion block?

You will meet with the doctor for a consultation. The doctor will take a medical history, conduct a physical examination, and review your medications. You must hold any drugs that thin the blood for several days, and should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure. In addition, you must take 2-4 days off from work, and plan to have someone drive you home. Wear loose-fitting clothing to the medical facility, and leave valuables at home.

How is the stellate ganglion block done?

When you arrive at the medical facility, a nurse goes over the risks and benefits and has you sign a consent form. Once you change into a gown, the nurse places an IV line in your arm. You are given a mild sedative. You are positioned on the procedure table, and the side of the neck on the affected side is cleaned with an antiseptic. The doctor numbs the skin and deeper tissues using a local anesthetic. Using ultrasound guidance, the procedure needle is inserted through the skin and positioned near the stellate ganglion nerves. A neurolytic agent (alcohol or phenol) or anesthetic (lidocaine or bupivacaine) is instilled onto the nerves, and the procedure needle is removed.

What happens after the stellate ganglion block procedure?

You are monitored in the recovery area for around an hour. The nurse monitors your condition as you awake from the sedative. You cannot drive or do rigorous activity for 24 hours, and should rest for 1-2 days at home. Expect to have some hoarseness, drooping and redness of the eye, and mild warmth on the treated side.

How does a stellate ganglion block help with PTSD symptoms?

In a recent study of the stellate ganglion nerve block for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the success for one patient was 90% improvement in anxiety symptoms, 50% improvement in appetite, and 25% improvement in sleep. Patients with PTSD have complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS), which is a stress response. Social phobia and PTSD are often associated with overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, so use of the block offers some symptom relief.

Does the stellate ganglion block work?

In a large study involving 250 blocks for PTSD symptom management, researchers found that 100% of patients said they would recommend the procedure for symptoms, and all were satisfied with the procedure effects. Researchers concluded that the stellate ganglion block was safe, acceptable, and well-tolerated in patients with chronic refractory PTSD.

Pain and Spine Clinics offers stellate ganglion blocks with a Double Board Certified expert and most insurance is accepted. Call (480) 565-PAIN!

Resources

McLean B (2015). Safety and Patient Acceptability of Stellate Ganglion Blockade as a Treatment Adjunct for Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Quality Assurance Initiative. Cureus, 7(9), 320.

Zhao HY, Yang GT, Sun NN, et al. (2017). Efficacy and safety of stellate ganglion block in chronic ulcerative colitis. World J Gastroent, 23(3), 433-439.

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