Reno Pain

Sphenopalentine Ganglion Block

Best Sphenopalentine Ganglion Block Doctors in Reno, Sparks and Carson City, Nevada.

Sphenopalentine Ganglion Block

Facial pain is a broad term for all pain symptoms in the head, which include much more than the average acute headache. Chronic headaches and migraines in the head and face can not only greatly diminish a person’s quality of life, it can also lead to additional symptoms such as depression. For this specific type of facial pain, a minimally-invasive sphenopalatine ganglion block has proven wildly helpful. The Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas can recommend the best treatment options for combating facial pain with the goal to help patients regain their daily functionality and improve their overall lifestyle. 


What is a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block?

A sphenopalatine ganglion block is a minimally-invasive procedure that can help relieve painful acute or chronic pain in the head and face. The quick procedure involves injecting a local anesthetic into the sphenopalatine ganglion, which is a group of nerve cells located in the back of the nasal passages below the nose. The block can help inhibit or stop pain caused by trauma, infection, or other factors that sensitize nerves.


This particular bundle of nerves is linked to the sensory, parasympathetic, and sympathetic nervous systems, all of which transmit and send pain signals. Additionally, the sphenopalatine ganglion sends nerve fibers to other parts of the head and face, including the glands, nasal passages, nasal cavity, palate, and upper pharynx.


The ganglion is also a hub for other important soft tissues in the face and head, including the trigeminal nerves (responsible for triggering head pain), postganglionic parasympathetic fibers (transmit messages to muscles) and somatic sensory afferents (fibers in the spinal nerves). By blocking any of the above nerves and fibers, a person can successfully experience pain relief because the body will not send the pain sensations in the first place. 


What Does a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block Treat?

There are three main conditions that a sphenopalatine ganglion block has proven helpful for treating, which include: 


  • Migraines and cluster headaches: this block has proven to provide quick and long-lasting pain relief, as well as a reduction of pain symptoms for those patients who did still experience pain. 
  • Cancer pain: when opioid-based medications and other prescription pain medications have failed to provide pain relief, a sphenopalatine ganglion block has proven incredibly useful and helpful for both cancer patients and their family members who are part of the cancer journey
  • Difficult to treat facial pain, most notably trigeminal neuralgia: trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensations to the forehead, cheek, and lower jaw. This condition is difficult to both diagnose and treat, but a sphenopalatine ganglion block has provided patients with immediate and long-term pain relief. 

In addition to the aforementioned conditions, the most specific pain conditions that a sphenopalatine ganglion block has been able to treat include: 


  • TMJ pain
  • Herpes zoster (shingles)
  • Atypical facial pain
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Sluder’s neuralgia (also known as sphenopalatine neuralgia)
  • Paroxysmal hemicrania (a rare, debilitating headache)

While incredibly helpful for treating the majority of facial pain symptoms, sphenopalatine ganglion block was not overly effective for myofascial facial pain (facial muscle and tissue ache) and pain due to fibromyalgia (widespread pain). 


An added benefit of a sphenopalatine ganglion block is that it is minimally invasive and has few side effects or chances of complications. So after patients have dealt with intense pain for longer than they’d like, they can finally find much needed relief with a low risk treatment option. 


What Does the Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block Procedure Involve?

The sphenopalatine ganglion is located behind a layer of connective tissue and mucous membrane. It can be accessed via a topical application or an injection. The three most common approaches include: 


  • Transnasal
  • Transoral
  • Lateral


Regardless of which approach is used, the procedure should take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. IV sedation is available for patients who are nervous or anxious about the procedure, but it’s not always needed. 


The transnasal approach is the most simple and widely used of the three. In this approach, the patient lies down, extends the neck, and opens the nasal passageway as if to take a big inhale. After your provider confirms that there is no blockage in your nasal passageway, they will provide a numbing agent that works via inhale. If a topical application is deemed the best course of action, they will use a cotton-tipped applicator that is dipped in anesthetic and will move it along the interior of the nose until it reaches the nasopharynx, which is where the nasal cavity and soft palate meet. The applicator is left in place for about 30 minutes. 


The transoral method involves flooding the passageway with the anesthetic, and is usually performed when there are blockages that don’t allow for an applicator. 


If a specific space within the sphenopalatine ganglion needs to be targeted, an injection proves to be most helpful. In this method, the provider will numb part of the cheek and insert a small needle using X-ray guidance into the desired location where the anesthetic is then injected. 


Recovery is nearly immediate, and the main side effect that patients might experience is numbness in the mouth or throat. Most patients can expect to experience pain and symptom relief that lasts from weeks or even up to years. 


What are the Benefits and Risks of a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block?

The main benefit of a sphenopalatine ganglion block is that it is a minimally-invasive and low-risk outpatient procedure (meaning that the patient is able to return home the same day) that provides patients who are suffering from severe facial pain and headaches with much needed relief. 


Risks from a sphenopalatine block are very low, but include possible infection (if the injection route was used), a bitter taste in the mouth or throat from the anesthetic, allergic reaction to the medication, nose bleeds or lightheadedness. These are all temporary risks and are usually resolved within an hour or two after the procedure. 


If you find that your facial pain and headaches are causing a major disruption to your lifestyle and quality of life, please know that there are proven treatment options that can help you. The Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas can answer all of your questions, diagnose your condition, and provide the best treatment to help you finally experience pain relief. Please schedule an appointment today.

Your comprehensive treatment plan will help you eliminate chronic pain and get you back into a healthy life.

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At Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists, we know that you want to get back to living a pain-free life. To do that you need a pain management team you can trust. The problem is there are so many pain clinics that do not listen to you and treat you like a statistic which makes you feel frustrated.

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