SPG Block – Headache Treatment
Nerves are cells that carry messages, including pain, as small electrical signals from one part of the body to another. Often, nerves that are sensitized by trauma, infection or other causes can trigger pain. Numbing these nerves may interrupt the electrical signals and offer relief to the patient.
The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a bundle of nerves that is linked to other nerves within the head and typically involved in headaches and facial pain. The SPG is located just under the tissue that lines the back of the nose. When this bundle of nerves is anesthetized or "blocked", it can prevent or stop pain from reoccurring, especially cluster headaches, migraines, tension headaches and trigeminal neuralgia.
How does it work?
The SPG is "blocked" with a small amount of lidocaine, a numbing medication, through a small catheter. This local anesthetic calms the nerve impulses, providing pain relief.
How is the procedure done?
A SPG block is performed within a physician's office and does not require sedation. The doctor inserts a small soft catheter, under X–ray guidance, into each nostril and injects the numbing medication towards the back of the nose to the site of the SPG. The procedure is completed within seconds. Patients are then required to lie flat for 10 minutes and typically experience mild to no discomfort.
Temporarily blocking the SPG can provide prompt, and possibly sustained, relief from pain. An SPG block may be repeated as often as needed and is typically used in conjunction with patients' previously prescribed medications. Patients can typically resume their normal activities after the procedure, including driving.