The pain, agony and suffering associated with headaches of all types can rapidly destroy your qualiity of life.  This is even more true when an individual has chronic headaches.

The most common approach is over the counter medications that all have issues with slow onset and negative side effects.  Effectiveness varies and often minimal or partial relief is obtained.

NSAIDs  or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are probably the most common medication used.  This includes aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen  (Allieve) and etedolac.  All of these drugs are excellent anti-inflamatories and all of them have serious side effects including GI disturbances, burning, ulcers, esopageal burns, and increased bleeding times.  The biggest issue is lack of effectivenes and slow onset.

Tylenol or Acetaminophen is less effective and does not cause GI distress but can cause permanent liver damage especially if taken with alcohol.  Again this can take considerable time to reach effective blood levels to treat the pain.

The National Headache Foundation recommends a Triple-Combination Medication  of acetylsalicylic acid, (aspirin), acetaminophen, and caffeine for tension-type headaches.  Unfortunately, this still requires absorption in thee GII tract and carries the same risks as the individual drugs.  Excedrin is a combination medication with these ingredients.  Excedrin and Excedrin Migraine are the same medication.

Compare these OTC Drugs and response time to Self-Administered Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Blocks which typically utilize 2% lidocaine, a natural anti-inflammatory that is often given to stabilize a patients heart beat but is best known  as dental anesthetic.  Patient’s can self-administer and SPG block in minutes and relief for Migraine and Cluster Headaches can be almost immediate.  SPG Blocks are especially effective for Tension-Type Headaches and other Trigeminal Nerve associated headaches

Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks can be administered in physicians offices and in Emergency Departments utilizing a nasal catheter such as a Sphenocath, Allevio or TX360.  These are all specialized catheters designed to “squirt” lidoocaine to the mucosa covering the Sphenopalatine Ganglion.  While these are effective and can give almost immediate relief they are also expensive and the patients life is disrupted by the headache and the headache treatment.

The use of cotton-tipped nasal catheters allows the patient to self-administer SPG Blocks to use to prevent headache occurrence as well as to alleviate headaches at initial onset before increasing severity disrupt patient’s lives.  Most physicians do not train patients to self-administer these blocks but it is an easily learned procedure utilized for  over 100 years.

The Sphenopalatine Ganglion is the largest Parasympathetic Ganglion of the head and is part of the Autonomic Nervous System.  The Sympathetic nerves are also part of the autonomic nervous system and are involved in the “fight or flight” reflex which is also known as the stress reflex.  The Sphenopalatine Ganglion is also known as the SPG, the Pterygopalatine Ganglion, the Nasal Ganglion, Meckel’s Ganglion and Sluder’s Ganglion after the physician who first described it’s role in treating headaches in 1908.

While many medications can be utilized with SPG Blocks there is no study that has shown anything to be more effective than lidocaine.  Lidocaine is a natural anti-inflammatory with positive cardiac effects in the presence of irregular heart rhythm.  It is commonly utilized as dental anesthetic. list 66 drugs to treat migraines, including triptans but none have been shown to be more effective than SPG Blocks though there is a massive amount of drug side effects associated with these medications.  All of these medications can be helpful and  SPG Blocks are safe to be used in combination with any headache or migraine medication.

Most importantly,  SPG Blocks can give the fastest relief possible with the lowest risk of medication side effects.

There are side effects to Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks but in general they are positive.  About 1/3 of essential hypertension can be cured with SPG Blocks.  SPG Blocks can relieve anxiety and stress.  The blocks can relieve a wide range of eye, ear, nose , sinus and jaw pains.  A 1930 article “Sphenopalatine Phenomena”  by Hiram Byrd in Annals of Internal Medicine (JAMA) showed almost 100% success in 10,000 blocks in 2000 patients with virtually no negative side effects.

This amazing technique almost became lost as part of forgotten medicine when Big Pharma and pharmaceuticals changed medicine starting in the 1940’s.  This technique may have been lost forever but returned after the publication of a popular book “Miracles on Park Avenue” which detailed the practice of Dr Milton Reder an octogenerian  New York City Otolaryngologist whose entire practice focused on treating patients utilizing only Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks.

Injection of the Sphenopalatine Ganglion may be a way to increase effectiveness of the block in an acute severe headache.  Dentists are the expeerts at the intraoral injection through the greateer palatine canal.  Extra-oral injections may be done via the Suprazygomatic Approach wiithout fluoroscopy, usually by a Neuromuscular dentist trained in treating TMJ /TMD and orofacial pain or ENT’s with extensive experience in treating chronic pain patients.


Copyright 2014 • Dr. Ira Shapira •

For effective TMJ and Sleep Disorder solutions. 3500 Western Ave Suite 101 | Highland Park, IL 60035 | Phone: (847) 533 8313.

Dr Shapira is a licensed general dentist in Illinois

Serving the communities of Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Morthon Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Vernon Hills, Wilmette, Winnetka, Lake County

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