Stellate Ganglion Blocks

The Stellate Ganglion is a collection of nerves formed from the sympathetic nerves of the cervical and thoracic area. It is located in front of the seventh cervical vertebrae and near the first rib. They are part of the sympathetic nervous system and lead to the face and arm. These nerves do not provide feeling or motor function.

Sometimes, after a nerve is traumatized, or sensitized for example, by an infection, the increased sympathetic activity can produce pain. A Stellate Ganglion Block can either be diagnostic to determine the cause of the pain or therapeutic for pain relief.

This procedure consists of the placement of an anesthetic, as well as a corticosteroid solution, on the sympathetic nerves or ganglions (Stellate Ganglion) that rest on the anterior aspect of the cervical spine. The purpose of this injection is to diagnose and treat sympathetic-mediated pain. The procedure may be repeated periodically, if necessary, and is an important part of treating conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (RSD), shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia) and trauma as well as other neurologic conditions.
All procedures are done under fluoroscopic guidance (X-ray-guided) to ensure proper placement of the medication and may be performed in an ambulatory surgical center, fluoroscopy suite or hospital setting.

If you respond to the first Stellate Block Injection, further injections may be recommended. A series of 2-4, and up to 10 may be needed to completely treat the problem.

Stellate Ganglion Block Indications

  • Diagnose the cause of pain in the face and head, arms and chest
  • Manage pain in the head, neck, chest or arm caused by nerve injuries, the effects of an attack of shingles (herpes zoster) or angina that does not go away
  • Treat reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), sympathetic maintained pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Reduce sweating in the face, head, arms and hands