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Pain Management Blog



05Feb

SPG Nerve Block: A Cure for Headaches

Headaches are a common ailment that many in the population feel. Some are caused by dehydration, some are caused by a dip in blood sugar, and some are a sign of your body fighting some illness. Headaches that are a regular part of life for a portion of our communities need the help of pain relief from our team at Republic. We have solutions, including the SPG Nerve Block.

Overview of the SPG and Headaches

While headaches can occur for all of the reasons listed above and more, migraines are most commonly associated with the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) and the trigeminal nerve. According to the American College of Emergency Medicine, “the SPG is the main source of cranial and facial parasympathetic innervation.” The nerves of the SPG also function to supply the tear ducts and parts of the sinuses making it a system that does a lot. When you have migraines paired with additional parasympathetic-related symptoms, you need relief in a number of ways.

How to Perform the Block

For a number of reasons, including speed and accessibility, the nerve block should be performed transnasal, or through the nasal passages. We will lie you down with a cardiac monitor in place because of the high level of vascular contact we may make during the block. We want you to be comfortable and safe. Cleaning equipment and hands before the procedure begins is standard within our practice. A small amount of lidocaine will be administered, either with an injection or via aerosol application. Cotton swabs soaked in anesthetic will then be advanced through each nostril to make contact with the mucosa over the SPG. We will leave these in place for 10 minutes or until we are sure relief is felt by our patient, gently removing the swabs after we are done.

Why is it beneficial?

Because the SPG and nerves associated control many parts of the head and face, symptoms like nasal discharge, nausea, sweating, and others are common with migraines when the pain reception is passing through the body. By blocking the transmission of signals, not only can pain be alleviated, but the symptoms can be reduced as well. This method is also minimally invasive and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time, with positive results for patients. In one study, within 15 minutes of application, patients reported at least a 50% reduction in headache. Other studies have shown a significant reduction in relapse and patients needing additional treatment as compared to patients who received a placebo treatment. There are few side effects although some patients have reported nausea, a bitter taste, light-headedness, and general discomfort. If you experience any of these symptoms, make note of them and feel free to let us know if they get worse.

To learn more about the non-opioid methods of pain relief we use at Republic Pain Specialists, contact us today. We can help you feel relief from your migraines and from other ailments you may have. We use a multi-modal approach to making sure you are comfortable with your treatment plan, so even if this method isn’t the one for you, we can find one that might work!

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