Alpenglow Pain & Wellness
Board Certified Interventional Pain Management Physicians & Board Certified Anesthesiologists located in Anchorage, AK
The stellate ganglion is a group of nerves that are found near your voice box. Specifically, the stellate ganglion is a branch of your sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight response system.
A stellate ganglion block (SGB) can help ease your long haul COVID symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) symptoms. It may even benefit those with anxiety and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). At Alpenglow Pain & Wellness in Anchorage, Alaska, Dr. Nichelle Renk is an interventional pain specialist who has extensive experience performing nerve blocks. Learn more about the benefits by requesting a consultation online or by phone today.
Stellate Ganglion Block Q & A
What is the stellate ganglion?
The stellate ganglion is a part of the sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system activity affects the immune system and your body’s natural repair processes. If you have overactive sympathetic nervous system, this increased activity can lead to pain or other problematic symptoms.
What is a stellate ganglion block?
A stellate ganglion block targets the area on the right or left side of your neck where the sympathetic nerves are located on either side of your voice box. It may relieve pain in your head, neck, upper arms, and chest and improve other symptoms as mentioned above.
This type of nerve block involves using a long-acting local anesthetic to prevent pain signals from reaching the targeted nerves. A therapeutic nerve block can produce long-lasting, pain-relieving results.
What can I expect with a stellate ganglion block?
After applying a topical anesthetic to the treatment area, Dr. Renk uses real-time imaging (fluoroscopy) to guide the needle.
Dr. Renk then injects the numbing medication to block the sympathetic nerves located on either side of your voice box in your neck. The procedure takes about 5 minutes or less, and you may find improvements in your symptoms within half an hour.
How can stellate ganglion block help me?
Dr. Renk may recommend a stellate ganglion block to help treat:
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Complex regional pain syndrome is a debilitating condition that causes ongoing pain in one area of your body or limbs, like your arms or legs. A stellate ganglion block treats the targeted location that CPRS affects.
If the condition affects your upper extremities, the nerve block is performed on the lower neck region. Or, if your lower extremities are affected, Dr. Renk can inject the numbing medication into your lower back (lumbar sympathetic ganglion).
Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, can cause loss of taste or smell. It can also cause altered taste, tiredness, fatigue, and POTS.
While researchers are still learning about stellate ganglion blocks for treating long COVID, they believe that treatment may be beneficial by increasing cerebral blood flow, which in patients with the condition, is shown to have decreased.
Anxiety and PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) causes people to experience flashbacks and sleep disturbances. They might be hypervigilant and be constantly “on guard.” A stellate ganglion block may help to relieve phantom pain — perception of pain or discomfort that is no longer there — and chronic anxiety, calming fight-or-flight symptoms.
You can also benefit from seeing a specialist for talk therapy if you struggle with moving past painful times in your life.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
The “flight-or-flight” response also appears in POTS, a condition that causes the heart to beat faster than normal and periods of lower blood pressure. In the same way that it calms anxious feelings in people with PTSD, it might also help with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome symptoms.
To learn more about stellate ganglion block, call Alpenglow Pain & Wellness to schedule your appointment.
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