SPG Block Specialist

William  D. Stratford, MD -  - Headache Specialist

Your Migraine Care

William D. Stratford, MD

Headache Specialist & Board-Certified Psychiatrist located in Missoula, MT

An SPG block is a quick, painless procedure that frees you from the agony of severe headaches like migraines by targeting the source of the pain. The experienced team at Your Migraine Care uses the SphenoCath® medical device to precisely deliver medication to the nerves responsible for headache pain. SPG blocks are minimally invasive procedures that don’t require downtime. To learn more about SPG blocks or to schedule an appointment, call one of the offices in Missoula, Montana.

SPG Block

What is an SPG block?

An SPG block is an in-office procedure in which your doctor at Your Migraine Care places medication directly onto a group of nerves called the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG). The SPG is easy to access through your nose because it’s located just behind the upper nasal passageways. As a result, an SPG block is a safe, quick procedure that effectively relieves severe headache pain and may reduce the frequency of your headaches.

How does an SPG block work?

The SPG is linked to the trigeminal nerve, the primary nerve involved in headaches. When your doctor blocks the SPG, one of two things happens, depending on the type of medication used during the procedure. In a traditional SPG block that uses an anesthetic, the SPG stops sending pain messages. When your brain doesn’t get the pain signal, you won’t feel the pain.

The team at Your Migraine Care goes a step beyond the original SPG nerve block by choosing a more advanced medication. They use a calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitor that prevents the release of CGRP, a neuropeptide, from the nerves.

CGRP transmits headache pain signals and it can also cause severe headaches. When your provider places the CGRP inhibitor onto the SPG, the result is a significant reduction in headache pain. The procedure may also reduce the frequency of your headaches.

What types of headaches do you treat with an SPG block?

While an SPG block may help many types of severe or chronic headaches, the team at Your Migraine Care primarily use the procedure to treat migraines and cluster headaches. They may also recommend an SPG block for tension headaches and secondary headaches caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and sinusitis.

What should I expect during an SPG block procedure?

The team at Your Migraine Care uses the advanced SphenoCath® device to perform your SPG block. The SphenoCath is a slender, flexible catheter that’s specially designed to access areas deep in your nasal passages.

You may experience pressure, but you won’t feel pain. You also won’t need sedation, but your doctor at Your Migraine Care administers a topical anesthetic and a decongestant to ensure your comfort.

After you lie down on the examination table, your doctor guides the SphenoCath through your nostrils and nasal passageway until it’s positioned at the SPG. Then they push medication through the catheter, delivering it directly to the nerve bundle.

The entire treatment only takes about five minutes, then you lie on your back for another 10-15 minutes to give the medication time to penetrate the SPG and trigeminal nerve. You won’t have side effects and you can return to your daily routine when your treatment is finished. 

To learn if you’re a good candidate for an SPG block, call Your Migraine Care to schedule an appointment.