It can be challenging to manage complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In addition to making every day and movement more difficult due to the excruciating pain it causes in your hands, arm, or shoulder, your symptoms may worsen over time and spread from one finger to your entire arm or the other limb.
A stellate ganglion block, however, can assist you in stopping the pain that is overtaking your life so that you can resume enjoying life.
Let’s look at what CRPS is and how stellate ganglion block for CRPS can help eliminate the pain.
What is CRPS?
Complex regional pain syndrome is a disorder caused by abnormal nerve activity resulting in persistent pain signals. As a result, the pain and other symptoms caused by the illness, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), may worsen over time.
CRPS typically develops following minor trauma. The sympathetic nerves are assumed to have been injured, and symptoms usually include the following:
- significantly increased skin sensitivity
- changes in skin color
- changes in skin texture
- variations in skin temperature
- abnormal hair and nail growth
- joint stiffness and swelling
- muscles spasms and weakness
- severe, burning, debilitating, and persistent pain
Although it can spread from the originating site to all parts of the body, it usually affects the limbs, including the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Although adults and children can get affected, the disease appears to peak around 40 years old and is more prevalent in women than men.
CRPS can be unpredictable. The following are a few examples of why:
- Most illnesses are mild and usually go away within months to a few years as the damaged nerve heals. If not, symptoms may remain and result in long-term disabilities.
- The result is influenced by the person’s underlying general and nerve health and the extent of the initial injury. Teenagers, children, and younger kids usually always make a full recovery, including older adults who eat healthily and have good circulation.
- People rarely continue to suffer from extreme pain and disability despite receiving treatment. However, if this does occur, this could be a sign of unrelated, underlying issues interfering with recovery that need further testing and treatment.
To prevent CRPS from developing, you can follow these steps:
- Taking vitamin C after fracturing your wrist: According to studies, those who take a high quantity of vitamin C (recommended daily dose of 500 mg for 50 days) after a wrist fracture may be less likely to develop CRPS than those who don’t.
- Earliest possible recovery from a stroke: Early mobilization (getting out of bed and moving around) after a stroke may help people lower their chance of developing CRPS, according to some research.
Even though there is no cure for CRPS, there are treatments that can help you manage your symptoms and reclaim your life.
Most people who suffer from CRPS will seek physical rehabilitation first for pain management, as the main problems with CRPS are pain and limb dysfunction. However, some comorbidities also need to be addressed, such as:
- Sleeping difficulties
This is where stellate ganglion block injections are the optimal treatment for CRPS, as they assist with pain management and improve the condition’s psychological impact.
Stellate Ganglion Block for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The sympathetic nervous system’s part in your neck is called the stellate ganglion. It is situated at the level of your seventh cervical vertebra on each side of your trachea (either side of your voice box).
Your stellate ganglion’s neurons connect to your central nervous system, where they function to control body temperature, nerve pain, body temperature, etc. Stellate ganglion blocks can aid in the relief of the upper extremity symptoms of CRPS, thanks to this function.
The procedure entails injecting a combination of drugs into the stellate ganglion, which can alleviate symptoms in your upper chest, upper arm, neck, and head. These drugs include a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and an anesthetic to treat pain. SGB can improve your arm’s blood supply and circulation.
The SGB process is quick and straightforward. One of our SGB Doc’s board-certified doctors will begin the process by injecting a local anesthetic into the neck’s nerves. The injection process is quick, requiring about ten minutes, followed by fifteen to twenty minutes of monitoring. The total appointment time will last about an hour.
Our doctors at SGB Docs use modern technology, using image guidance to perform the injection procedure. This ensures accuracy and less pain for the patient.
Once the CRPS treatment is complete, patients tend to feel relaxed and calm as the body resets. Expect to experience less pain, better sleep, and less irritability! In addition, patients must be mindful that the effects will set in a few days or weeks after the first injection.
While some patients benefit from an SGB’s immediate pain relief, others experience pain after the local anesthetic wears off. The alleviation usually lasts longer after each treatment, and the best results are typically experienced with a series of injections. Therefore, getting a second injection within 4 to 8 weeks after your first appointment may be helpful.
Stellate Ganglion Block Risks
Any injection for a person with CRPS carries risks, mainly causing the spread of the condition, so doctors must follow the necessary protocols. One of the more common risks with injections includes the needle damaging nerves or failing to inject the drug into the correct place. Additionally, patients may experience soreness or bruising around the injection site,
If the nerve block is performed correctly, most patients experience no side effects outside the discomfort and pain of the block itself.
Apart from these risks, there are minor side effects ganglion nerve block for CRPS may cause patients following the procedure, such as:
- bloodshot or red eyes
- nasal stuffiness with tearing
- droopy eyelids
- having trouble swallowing
- experiencing a lump in your throat
- croaky voice
- your arm or hand may feel warm or tingly immediately after the injection
These side effects don’t last long and will subside within a couple of hours after the procedure.
Stellate Ganglion Block Success Rate for CRPS
There are several studies done on the stellate ganglion block success rate for CRPS, which all indicate it is a long-term solution. Looks look at a few of these studies and their results:
- In a study of 318 patients, 255 patients were diagnosed with CRPS, while the rest had related disorders. 61% of the patients experienced more than 50% pain reduction, and 85% reported a pain reduction of at least 50% for one to four weeks or more.
- In another study conducted among CRPS patients, 40% experienced complete symptom relief after CRPS injections, 36% had partial relief, and 24% had no relief.
- A study of the effectiveness of stellate ganglion blocks for treating upper-body complex regional pain syndromes was conducted on patients with a total of 287 ganglion nerve block for CRPS. The study found that the total mean pain reduction was 73.2%, considering spontaneous, while there was an overall mean pain reduction of 55.8% on provoked pain. The study also concluded that CRPS nerve block treatment should be started as soon as possible as a crucial element in preventing functional impairment from developing.
From these studies, the stellate ganglion block has a high success rate for CRPS, even though there’s no cure for the disease. SGB is an effective management treatment for CRPS and is safe for patients.
Stellate Ganglion Block for CRPS
At SGB Docs, our board-certified doctors have over 40 years of combined medical experience. Dr. Sudhir Rao and Dr. Jyothi Rao are a brother/sister duo who have been practicing medicine for over 20 years, specializing in SGB for patients with chronic pain such as CRPS, PTSD, and long-Covid symptoms.
Following a comprehensive approach to treating our patients with CRPS, we use modern technology and ensure our patients feel comfortable and safe at all times before, during, and after the procedure.
There are many other reasons why SGB Docs is your number one choice for stellate ganglion block for CRPS:
- Discounts available for two injections
- Various locations include MD, PA, and VA
- Board certified doctors
- Affordable pricing that beats competitors
- Financing options available
- Access to additional treatments is available through our health partners
Although SGB injections aren’t a cure for your CRPS pain, we can assist you in managing your pain ad finding the relief to live your best life!
Contact SGB Docs today to get started on SGB injections for your CRPS.