Pain, swelling, excessive sweating and other issues in the face and head can be treated with stellate ganglion injections. Administered at Franciscan Health, these injections have offered symptom relief in many people.
A stellate ganglion injection is an injection of local anesthetic in the sympathetic nerve tissue located on either side of the voice box, in the neck. The injection blocks the sympathetic nerves which may reduce pain, swelling, color and sweating changes in the upper extremity and may improve mobility. It is done as a part of the treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), sympathetic maintained pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and herpes zoster (shingles) involving upper extremity or head and face.
The injection takes a matter of minutes. It is administered either with the patient lying flat or reclining. The chin is slightly raised. The patient is monitored with a blood pressure cuff and blood oxygen-monitoring device. The skin in the front of the neck, next to the “voice box” is cleaned with antiseptic solution and then the injection is carried out.
The needle is inserted through the skin and deeper tissues (like a “tetanus shot”) so there is some discomfort involved.
The procedure is safe. The local anesthetic wears off in a few hours. However, the blockage of sympathetic nerves may last for many more hours. Usually, the duration of relief gets longer after each injection. If you respond to the first injection, you will be recommended for repeat injections. Usually, a series of injections are needed to treat the problem. Some may need only two more injections; others may need up to four more. The response to such injections varies from patient to patient.