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Stellate Ganglion Block as an Effective Treatment for RSD

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a condition with symptoms such as having a painful extremity that can also swell, and is associated with sweating, discoloration, flushing, and shiny skin. The symptoms of RSD can occur in the acute, dystrophic, or atrophic stages. While symptoms of RSD can easily be detected and clinical findings with radiological tests can diagnose the medical condition, the cause of RSD is unknown.

Stellate Ganglion Block Injection

The treatment for RSD requires a simple injection called a stellate ganglion block. It is a local anaesthetic that is injected into the neck’s sympathetic nerve tissue. Aside from the local anaesthetic, steroid medication or epinephrine may be added to make sure that the effects of the anaesthetic last longer.

Sympathetic nerves, where the injection will be given, are found in both sides of the voice box. The injection only takes a few minutes and is done to block sympathetic nerves that supply the arms and, to some extent, the face. The injection will need to penetrate not only the skin but also the deeper tissues. To help a patient tolerate pain, a different local anaesthetic can be injected before the stellate ganglion block. Intravenous sedation may also be needed for pain management. Even if patients are sedated before injecting the block, they will continue to breathe on their own throughout the procedure. The requirement of intravenous sedation is dependent on the patient’s tolerance for pain.

The injection should be given while the patient is sitting up. The patient’s chin should be slightly raised and turned away so the side to be injected faces the doctor administering the injection. Blood pressure cuff, EKG and a blood oxygen meter are used to monitor the patient’s condition during the procedure. Temperature-sensing probes may also be placed in the patient’s hands.


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