Sphenopalatine Nerve Block

Sphenopalatine ganglion block is a procedure that can help treat headache pain. This type of block may be used to treat headache disorders such as:

  • Migraines
  • Cluster headaches – severe headaches that happen often, normally on one side of the head
  • Trigeminal neuralgia – pain that feels like an electric shock on one side of the face
  • Paroxysmal hemicranias – headaches with throbbing or stabbing pain on one side
  • Atypical facial pain – pain in the face with no clear cause

What to Expect During a Sphenopalatine Nerve Block

You have a group of nerves behind your nose called the sphenopalatine ganglion. These nerves carry pain sensation. They also control formation of tears and nasal congestion.

During a sphenopalatine ganglion block, your physician will apply a local anesthetic to this group of nerves. You will have this procedure in the Northwestern Medicine Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine Clinic.

During the procedure, you will lie on your back in the procedure room. Your physician will apply the anesthesia in one of two ways:

  • Apply cotton swabs with a local anesthetic into the back of the nose.
  • Inject the local anesthetic into the cheek. The physician uses an X-ray to guide the injection.

After the procedure, you will stay in the clinic for about 30 minutes before going home.

After the block:

  • You may feel less pain.
  • The length of pain relief varies from person to person.
  • Some people have no pain relief, while others may have pain relief for months.

If you do not have pain relief after your procedure, you and your physician may talk about repeating it.