A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthetic used to block sympathetic, pain-transmitting nerves that innervate the neck and upper extremities. This block specifically targets sympathetic nerves that are involved in specific conditions that cause pain, swelling, color changes, and changes in sweating to the affected area. Stellate ganglion blocks are commonly used to treat pain and symptoms related to CRPS, post-herpetic neuralgia, limb ischemia, and more recently post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stellate ganglion blocks are performed with the use of local anesthetic and sometimes IV sedation to reduce any potential discomfort. A local anesthetic and epinephrine containing mixture is injected at the site of this nerve bundle under ultrasound guidance to block transmission of pain signals through these nerves.
The number of injections required to achieve pain reduction must be assessed on a case by case basis and commonly several weekly injections in rapid succession are required to achieve pain relief. The injection is performed in under 15 minutes on an outpatient basis and patients are able to return to normal activities within 24 hours.