What is an SPG block, and how can it help my headaches?
The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a nerve bundle located deep in the face, behind the root of the nose; it is part of the autonomic nervous system. For a long time the SPG has been a target for the treatment of severe headaches. The current indications for SPG blocks includeL chronic/episodic migraines, cluster headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, and medication overuse headaches. The toughest obstacle of performing the SPG has always been location. The SPG, as stated earlier, is located centrally behind the nose, inferiorly to the eyes.
Past techniques have been used with less accuracy and less effectiveness then options available today. These past techniques include: lateral approach using a long painful needle, q-tip transnasal approach, and a greater palatine approach through the top of the mouth. The current method we use at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute utilizes an intranasal approach with a special delivery device that allows us to safely and effectively deliver the medication to the SPG.
This procedure is the safest and most effective approach that is currently available, not to mention cost effective. This new technique has increased the effectiveness of the sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block and dramatically increased the duration of migraine and headache relief.
How it works:
The SPG is a collection of neuronal cell bodies functioning as biologic “circuits.” The injection causes a collective chemical re-polarization or RESET mechanism, in similar fashion to the way that the heart undergoes electrical re-polarization in cardioversion. This reset takes a hyperactive, over-excitable SPG and resets it back to baseline.
Trials have shown that eighty percent of patients who underwent SPG blocks obtained long term relief from 8 weeks to 10 months. This is a monumental statistic. In terms of headache treatment, the leaders and experts in the treatment of headaches all agree that reduction of headaches of a statistical difference of fifty percent is considered very successful. The SPG offers an answer to the debilitating disorder of headaches, and allows patients to increase their functionality, and improve their quality of life. The SPG block has been an incredible tool that we’ve added at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.