Stellate Ganglion Block

Treatment Details

Stellate Ganglion Block 

What is a stellate ganglion block and how does it help me?

The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerve fibres which is located in your neck next to your voice box. It makes up the sympathetic chain and delivers pain signals and movement messages to your brain. A stellate ganglion block is a local anaesthetic injection which aims to block the sympathetic nerves, providing pain relief to your face, neck and arm. Sometimes, a block can also improve the blood flow to the arm. 

How is the stellate ganglion block performed?

The procedure: 

  • Takes about 30 minutes to complete
  • Done under light sedation 
  • A local anaesthetic will be given to numb the skin of your voice box
  • Medications (local anaesthetic and steroids) will then be injected using ultrasound or X-ray guidance 

You may experience immediate pain relief until the local anaesthetic effect wears off. The pain relief will then improve again in 2-3 days, and it can last for weeks to months, depending on each individual. We usually use the block as a part of multi-modal pain management treatment. Therefore, you might need to continue with medications, physiotherapy or other treatment advised by your doctor. 

Am I a good candidate for a stellate ganglion block?

This treatment may be helpful for you if you are suffering from: 

  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Shoulder/hand syndromes
  • Causalgia (nerve injury)
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Intractable angina
  • Shingles (herpetic neuralgia from herpes zoster)
  • Poor circulation in the upper extremities
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Scleroderma
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) in the face and upper extremities
  • Hot flashes and sleep dysfunction related to hot flashes

What are the possible risks?

Some patients may experience Horner’s syndrome which includes symptoms like drooping of the upper eyelid, pupil constriction and dressed sweating. It is a normal response and symptoms usually subside within several hours after the procedure. 

Other rare side effects and risks include: 

  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Minor bleeding 
  • Nerve injury 
  • Red, teary eyes 
  • Allergic reaction 
  • Numbness and/or weakness down the hand and chest
  • Temporary bruising
  • Increased pain at the injection site 

Many of these side effects are minor and only persist for a few hours.

What should I expect after the procedure?

You will need a family member or a friend to fetch you upon discharge as you are not advisable to drive.

  • General guidelines include:
    1. Apply a cold compress over the injection site to reduce any minor swelling or pain
    2. If you experience difficulty swallowing (which is temporary), do not eat, drink or swallow anything for 4 hours after the procedure
    3. You should also avoid any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours, you may return to your normal activities the next day
A stellate ganglion block is, fortunately, a low-risk non-surgical treatment. Every condition is different, hence it is best to consult a specialist who is experienced in managing such conditions. Reach out to Dr Timothy Thor today.  

Get in Touch With Us