Blocking Troublesome Nerves in the Neck

Copy of iStock 849157490 Our nervous system has a part in everything our body does, from sensing touch or temperature to controlling sweating and breathing. There are three types of nerves: autonomic nerves that control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body (including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation), motor nerves that control your movements and actions passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles, and sensory nerves that relay information from your skin and muscles back to your spinal cord and brain where the information is processed to let you feel sensations like pain. 

Nerves play such a critical role in all we do that when they become damaged or otherwise begin to malfunction it can be helpful to block certain nerves. That’s the case in a stellate ganglion nerve block performed at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic. 

What are the stellate ganglion nerves? 

The stellate ganglion nerves travel along both sides of our spine. They are associated with a wide range of bodily functions, particularly those associated with the “fight or flight” reaction in humans, that you don’t consciously control. These include sweating, heart rate, blushing, dilation of the pupils, among others. 

What is a stellate ganglion block? 

A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthetic into the nerves of the stellate ganglion. These are located in the neck on either side of the voice box. 

Why is this done? 

These injections block the sympathetic nerves that go to the arms, and, to some degree the nerves that go to the face. This may work to reduce pain, swelling, color and sweating changes in the upper extremities, and may improve mobility. Dr. Trujillo uses stellate ganglion blocks as part of the treatment for complex regional pain syndrome. 

How is a stellate ganglion block performed? 

For these blocks, Dr. Trujillo has the patient lie on our procedure table. We provide intravenous sedation and Dr. Trujillo locally anesthetizes the area to be injected. Next, he inserts a needle and, using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance, he tracks the needle to ensure it is placed in the right areas. The video images detail the needle’s position. 

When the needle is in position, Dr. Trujillo injects the combination of local anesthetic and corticosteroid medication. This bathes the nerves of the stellate ganglion. This provides immediate pain relief, and the steroid works to decrease inflammation for a period of months. 

If you have complex regional pain syndrome, a stellate ganglion nerve block could be a good treatment option. Call us at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic Associates, (855) 768-4968, to schedule your appointment.

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