Headaches can typically occur at the back and top of the head due to the inflammation of the occipital nerve and or spinal nerves exiting the spine. If the occipital nerve is the reason for your pain, we may consider an occipital nerve block injection to relieve your pain. If it is determined that a compressed spinal nerve may be the source for your headache pain, we may consider an epidural steroid injection.
Another common cause of headaches is facet arthritis of the neck. Arthritic pain is often caused by inflammation of the joints in the neck (called facet joints), much like the joints in the knees and hands, the cartilage can degenerate and form bones spurs resulting in arthritis. Often these joint are involved in generating pain when a “whiplash” injury is sustained either by a fall or in a motor vehicle accident. This whiplash type injury is termed Facet Syndrome. Often for these we consider either facet joint injections or for more permanent relief we would consider Radiofrequency Ablation or Rhizotomy of those nerves associated with those joints.
Another common cause for headaches is muscle pain. Irritated muscle bands can cause muscle ache, spasm, or tightness which can often result in referred pain into a remote area away from the muscle. These are termed “trigger points” (irritated muscle bands) and are found often in the neck, face, or upper back that can result in headaches. Sometimes these are associated with irritated facet joints which require the facet joint treatments, other times they are just associated with the muscle and trigger point injections are useful to help relieve the spasm. Lastly, people with chronic migraine headaches may benefit from Botox Injections to relieve the muscle spasm that will relieve their headache pain.
The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a collection of nerves (sympathetic, parasympathetic and some sensory). It lies in a bony cavity called the pterygopalatine fossa, which is deep in the midface. Sometimes after a nerve is sensitized by trauma, infection or other causes, the sympathetic activity can cause pain. Blocking the sympathetic activity by anesthetizing the SPG may stop the pain.
A sphenopalatine ganglion block (SPGB) is done to:
- Diagnose the cause of pain in the face and head
- Manage the pain of certain types of chronic headaches
- Manage sympathetically maintained facial pain
If your practitioner decides that a SPGB is right for you, they may decide to use the SphenoCath™. The patented SphenoCath™ is a small, soft tube specifically designed to be gently inserted into a patient’s nose, as they lie on their back, and deliver medication precisely and consistently to the area of the SPG.
Here at Wasatch Pain Solutions, we provide the most accurate diagnosis and use the most advanced interventional procedures possible in order to treat these types of pain. Many people are pain free within 15-20 minutes after leaving the clinic.