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My experience with SPG nerve blocks

Here’s what an SPG nerve block for #chronicmigraines looks like. Not as bad as it sounds. If your Migraines occur in the temples, behind your eyes or generally in the front of your head, the SPG nerve block helps to provide anesthesia to a bundle of nerves that sits behind your nose (called Sphenoganglion nerves). Performed at Georgetown University Headache Center.

I’ve now had 3 SPG blocks completed. During the first two, I had a sinus infection so it was hard to tell if it worked. The third time has not proved as successful as I had hoped, but I’m going to keep with my schedule of one every two weeks between Botox injections. At the end of the 3 months, I’ll decide if these help or I want to switch back to nerve blocks.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • 164otpl
    3 years ago

    I had a series of 12 SPG treatments over a 3 week period with no improvement in my symptoms. I have migraines about 6-8 days per month and was desperate for relief. Maxalt works for me but I am afraid to take it so frequently. I spent $1500 on the SPG treatments with little assistance from insurance. I feel like I was sold up the river.

  • Amy Vavolizza-Runge
    3 years ago

    You are a rock star!!!!
    A couple of questions. I’m a freak with any numb feeling near my throat (can’t even do novacain with dental work). How bad was that dripping down your throat?
    Also I wonder how it would work for someone with a super deviated septum.

    Thanks! Hope you continue to do well.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Not sure about the deviated septum. Might just need to find a doctor who has a lot of experience doing these.

    And it’s not the numbing stuff that they stick in your nose, it’s the lidocaine they inject that can trickle down your throat. It’s happened to me every single time. It goes away in a few hours. If you can’t handle that, maybe something else will work. It’s worth a try but only if you’re comfortable with it.
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Modeator

  • Kari Froelicher
    3 years ago

    I have wanted to try this but I couldn’t find anyone who took my insurance the last couple of years that did it and I had tried 6 sets of botox with no results so was hesitant to try this as well. Now I have different insurance(worse and more expensive insurance that doesn’t cover as much…basically like having no insurance). So it would be all out of pocket for me so am hesitant with additional expenses. But if I thought it could work I would do it. But it is one of those things that has to be repeated and there again is the cost issue with the expensive insurance that is essentially non insurance (just something the government has made me pay for).

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Kari,
    It’s so frustrating when insurance gets in the way of healthcare.

    I don’t know what the cost is, but in the beginning my doctor schedule me for once every 2 weeks and skip when I get Botox.

    Sorry you’re in that position. Youay want to contact the manufacturer to see if they have a subsidy program or coupons.

    -Katie
    Migraine Moderator

  • grammayumyum
    3 years ago

    About a year ago, I started SPG blocks every 6 weeks along with botox every 3 months. By the 5th week of every SPG cycle, I was migraining pretty bad, but not as bad as before the treatments. I’ve only been to the ER 2-3 times the whole last year.
    Three months ago we started adding propivacaine to the SPG and we’ve hit gold!! Propivacaine is a longer-lasting nerve block than novocain, which is more known for its fast-acting capabilities. I have had only two “7” (on the 1-10 pain level rating) migraines in the last six weeks, with no increase in migraines at the end of the SPG cycle. About 1/3 of any given month is “0” now!!! Most of the rest of the month is a “2” on the 1-10 pain scale, with an occasional “4”. I have my life back!!!
    I am sooooooo glad i finally saw a headache specialist. This treatment has been lifechanging for me. I’m 57, and last fall I started back to school to become a speech-language pathologist. After 35 years out of college, I passed a physics course with straight A’s!
    I make a 12-14 hour round trip to receive treatment every six weeks, but it. is. so. worth. it! Best wishes to you, each and every one.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Grammayyumy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your success story. I hope the video will at least give others exposure to new treatments. It won’t always work for everyone.

    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Kari,
    It’s so frustrating when insurance gets in the way of healthcare.

    I don’t know what the cost is, but in the beginning my doctor schedule me for once every 2 weeks and skip when I get Botox.

    Sorry you’re in that position. You may want to contact the manufacturer to see if they have a subsidy program or coupons.

    -Katie
    Migraine Moderator

  • Piglet
    3 years ago

    I have had this three times in about two years, usually in conjunction with a toradol shot. That combo really does work for me but I only use it if I have had migraine for a few days without relief because it only lasts one or two day. My insurance pays but I am still out of pocket about $200 per block. After the block there is a bad taste but I can otherwise immediately carry on with life. In December I had bilateral cervical nerve ablation (three on each side in two surgeries). A lot more invasive and costly but it lasted three wonderful months in which the frequency of my chronic and near daily migraines decreased about 75%. Felt like the “real me” again if only for a while. I see a certified migraine specialist who is also a neuro and PM specialist.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Has the nerve ablation helped you longer than 3 month? Was it a good experience? Even if they are not gone completely, has the frequency and severity improved?

  • MissMary
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the video! I’ve asked my pain mgmt doc about it & he doesn’t do it. I’m looking forward to hearing how your results are and knowing the GW is an option.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Miss Mary, you should definitely look into seeing a headache specialist who are well versed in the latest treatments.
    https://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

  • kim8868
    3 years ago

    I tried it twice and it made me worse. I hope it works to help other people though.

  • DebbyJ56
    3 years ago

    I had five SPG treatments and saw no change to the migraine patterns. I was very disappointed because there was a lot of hype this this procedure.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Debby,
    Sorry it didn’t work for you. I’m glad you were able to try it. I’ll try anything within reason and after a lot of research. You never know what’s going to work.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Katie,
    Great video and I will share with anyone thinking of getting SPG nerve blocks. It’s so valuable for people to see what’s involved so they may feel more prepared!
    Lisa

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks Lisa! I haven’t completely made up my mind on if it’s making a difference, but i’ll give it a little more time.

  • Tammy Rome
    3 years ago

    My sinuses are so sensitive that just watching you go through that made my eyes water. 🙂 I sure hope you get good results!

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Tammy, once I had a cold with a runny nose and one nasal cavity was harder to get through than the other one.

    But they say as long as your eyes tear up, they got the right spot!

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