Some facial pains and migraine headaches can be incapacitating. To help, Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida, treats many facial pain and migraine disorders with sphenopalatine ganglion blocks (SPG blocks).
The sphenopalatine ganglion block procedure offers help for patients suffering from acute headaches and facial pain, with few side effects and long-lasting results. The sphenopalatine ganglion was first associated with facial pain in 1909. Today, doctors target the sphenopalatine ganglion to treat multiple pain disorders, including migraine and cluster headaches.
Here is important information about this pain treatment option.
The sphenopalatine ganglion is a bundle of nerves located within the bony cavities of the skull on either side of the nose (pterygopalatine fossa bone cavity). This group of nerves is a part of the body’s nervous systems responsible for transmitting and receiving pain signals. It is the largest collection of sensory neurons in the head outside of the brain.
The sphenopalatine ganglion (also known as nasal ganglion) is the only ganglion with access to the outside environment through the nasal cavity. Because it is near several important nervous system structures, the ganglion is involved in facial pain, cluster, and migraine headaches.
What Is a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block?
A sphenopalatine ganglion block is a minimally invasive procedure for treating certain types of acute and chronic facial and head pain. Sometimes a nerve can cause pain if it becomes sensitized by trauma, infection, or other causes. The block can help inhibit or even completely stop some forms of pain from occurring.
Conditions Treated With a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block
The most common pain conditions treated with a sphenopalatine ganglion block include:
Acute or chronic migraine.
Atypical facial pain.
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Head and neck cancers.
Herpes zoster pain involving the nerves of the eye.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.
Other forms of persistent, difficult-to-treat facial pain.
Sphenopalatine ganglion blocks can also be effective in helping relieve pain following endoscopic sinus surgery. However, it has not proven effective in treating some myofascial pain of the face and pain due to fibromyalgia.
How Does a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block Work?
A sphenopalatine ganglion block works by injecting pain-relieving medicine into the region where the ganglion lies. The treatment helps reduce the release of the chemical norepinephrine, which activates pain-sensitive nerves.
Typically, the patient is under sedation while the doctor uses X-ray (fluoroscopy) guidance to inject an anesthetic into the sphenopalatine ganglion.
Who Can Benefit From a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block?
A sphenopalatine ganglion block can help diagnose the cause of pain in the face and head. Studies found the effectiveness of this treatment provided significant headache relief compared to those treated with a placebo. In a follow-up study, the patients receiving the sphenopalatine ganglion block reported a decrease in the number of headache days one month following treatment with decreased medication usage. In addition, the study participants continued to report an improved quality of life after six months.
One strength of the Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block is that it works relatively quickly. For example, in one case series, as much as 70% of migraines improved after 15 minutes.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including sphenopalatine ganglion 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.