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A stellate ganglion block, also called a sympathetic block, is a diagnostic tool. It’s used to see if the sympathetic nerve chain is damaged and if it is a source of the experienced pain.
- A stellate ganglion block is used in relation to pain in the neck, head, chest, or arm.
- It is also used for pain that can be caused by the shingles virus or a nerve injury.
During the procedure, your doctor will use fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray imaging, to guide a needle into the sympathetic nerve tissue in your neck, which is located on either side of your voice box. The anesthetic used in the injection will block the nerves, and you and your doctor will be able to see if that reduces your level of pain after about 10 to 20 minutes of observation. Although the block is used primarily as a diagnostic tool, it can provide pain relief for a while as well. You will need to make note of the level of pain relief you experienced and how long it lasted. If you respond well to the first injection, you might have repeat injections.
What can I expect afterward?
You may have tenderness and bruising at the injection site, which goes away in a few days. You might need to wait a day or two to resume normal activities, but your doctor will give you specific post-procedure instructions.