Stellate ganglion block as an early intervention in sympathetically maintained headache and orofacial pain Caused by Temporal Arteritis

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Pain Medicine









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Introduction We report a case of temporal arteritis with a sympathetic component in the orofacial region, which responded to stellate ganglion blocks (SGBs).

Case An 81-year-old woman with limited mouth opening and pain upon chewing was referred to the Orofacial Pain Clinic at Nihon University Dental Hospital. The patient also presented with blurred vision and a burning sensation on the right side of her face. On clinical examination, the temporal artery was tender to palpation, and there was increased sensitivity in the temporal region bilaterally. The patient reported jaw pain and limited mouth opening. Laboratory examination showed elevations in erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein. The burning sensation was due to a sympathetic component, and SGBs substantially reduced both the burning sensation and right temporal pain. Blocking the sympathetic chain on the ipsilateral side also improved jaw movement. The patient was referred to a rheumatologist, after which she was admitted to hospital with a tentative diagnosis of temporal arteritis. Treatment with oral prednisone 30 mg daily was initiated, and the dose was tapered as her symptoms resolved.

Discussion The reason for the gradual pain relief after SGB is unclear, but we believe it was effective for ischemia in temporal arteritis because it led to dilation of affected arteries or suppression of inflammation/edema of the vascular wall.

Conclusion This case demonstrates that SGB may relieve pain related to temporal arteritis and sympathetically maintained headache and orofacial pain by reducing noxious stimulation peripherally and decreasing central pain transmission centrally.