A ganglion impar block is a treatment option for chronic pelvic, groin, rectal, or tailbone (coccydynia) pain. The block can effectively treat various health conditions that cause pain in the lower pelvis and groin while also helping diagnose the cause of the pain.
A ganglion impar block is helpful in treating coccydynia, a localized pain that usually worsens when sitting or with any activity that puts pressure on the bottom of the spine. More common in women than men, coccydynia can result from trauma to the tailbone or surrounding area, such as a backward fall. In some cases, childbirth can also be the cause of the pain.
Knowing what the ganglion impar is and its location is helpful in understanding how a ganglion impar block works.
A ganglion is an area of the body where many nerves intersect. The ganglion impar (also known as the azygos and ganglion of Walther) is a collection (bundle) of nerve cells in the area just in front of the lowest part of the spine (sacrum) and just above the tailbone (coccyx). The nerves typically control blood flow and can be the source of long-lasting (chronic) pain.
Nerves that send pain signals from the lower pelvis and groin pass through the ganglion impar on their way to the brain. Some of the nerves that pass through the ganglion impar include those in the:
Vagina and vulva.
Lower part of the urethra.
Lower part of the rectum.
When there is chronic pain in any of these areas, a ganglion impar block may help reduce the pain. The block is an injection of a local anesthetic for pain and a steroid for inflammation into the ganglion impar to disrupt pain signals.
What Is a Ganglion Impar Block?
A ganglion impar block is an injection that helps ease a variety of pains in the lower pelvis and groin area.
Conditions Treated with a Ganglion Impar Block
A ganglion impar block can help control pain in the lower pelvis or groin area resulting from dysfunction or malignancies in the pelvic organs. A ganglion impar block can help treat pain that is caused by conditions such as:
Vaginal or vulvar cancer.
Rectal or anal cancer.
Pain in the tailbone.
Rectal pain, or pain from other close structures.
Chronic coccydynia (pain in the very last segment of the spine).
A ganglion impar block can also be beneficial in treating pain in this area of the body resulting from an injury or trauma.
In some cases, a ganglion impar block can help diagnose the cause of pain. Doctors know they have pinpointed the source of pain if the pain lessens after the injection of numbing medicine (local anesthetic) into the area.
How Does a Ganglion Impar Block Work?
A ganglion impar block can stop the transmission of pain signals from the nerves to the spinal cord. By interrupting pain signals, the patient will often experience dramatic pain relief.
A diagnostic block can help assess if the ganglion impar is the source of pain. If the diagnostic block relieves the pain, the doctor can then inject a long-lasting drug to block the pain signals.
The benefits of the block include:
It is a minimally invasive procedure that only takes a few minutes to perform.
It is a relatively easy procedure to perform.
The injection is performed in a doctor’s office.
The procedure offers long-term pain relief. Patients can expect anywhere between 50-100% pain relief from the injection.
The block can treat multiple pelvic/perineal structures simultaneously.
Many people feel relief from their pain soon after the procedure. Depending on the medicine injected, the relief might last a few hours, a few weeks, or longer. There is documentation that some patients with tailbone pain (coccydynia) found complete and permanent relief after a single ganglion impar block.
For patients in which the pain returns after the medicine wears off, the pain usually returns at a lower level than before the injection.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including ganglion impar blocks. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates.