Sphenopalatine Ganglion Nerve Block

Sphenopalatine Nerve Block for Headache and Migraine

For more than a century, doctors have known that a connection exists between the sphenopalatine ganglion and pain disorders. Blocking this collection of nerves to treat headache is among the interventional procedures offered at the Diamond Headache Clinic. The introduction of catheter-based applicators that lessen discomfort during treatment has piqued Interest in this procedure recently. If your headache fails to improve with medication or conventional therapy, talk to your doctor and find out if this option is right for you.

What is the Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG)?

Located deep in the face behind the nasal cavity, the sphenopalatine ganglion is a cluster of sensory and autonomic nerves. The SPG transmits information about sensation, including pain, and it also affects autonomic functions, such as nasal congestion and tearing. The SPG is associated with the trigeminal nerve, which is the main nerve involved in headache. Blocking these nerves has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of cluster and migraine headaches.

What Is an SPG Nerve Block for Headache and Migraine?

During a sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) nerve block, an anesthetic is administered to the SPG nerves to reduce their activity, effectively blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This safe, minimally invasive procedure is performed in your doctor’s examination room. The amount and duration of relief vary; some patients do not respond, while others see improvement in as soon as several days or not for weeks. The procedure can be repeated as often as necessary until optimum relief is obtained.

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The Procedure

SPG nerve blocks should be performed only by physicians with specific training and expertise, like those at the Diamond Headache Clinic. Because this procedure is done through the nose, your doctor first administers a nasal numbing spray to reduce discomfort during catheter placement. After your nose is numb, the applicator is placed in a nostril and the catheter is advanced to the back of the nasal cavity. After the anesthetic is pushed through the syringe, the catheter is removed. The procedure is repeated in the other nostril. The entire procedure takes just minutes.

No sedation is required, and you can drive yourself to the office and home afterward. Common side effects include discomfort during and after the procedure, numbness while swallowing, a bitter taste from the anesthesia, bleeding from the nose and lightheadedness. These are temporary and will resolve in a few hours or less.

Headache Relief

The SPG nerve block does not cure headaches. Rather, it is a non-drug, immediate and temporary solution to alleviate headache pain. Relief is experienced instantly or can take from 15 minutes to a few hours to occur, and it lasts for a period of time. SPG nerve blocks are most successful when undertaken as part of a comprehensive headache treatment plan.

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