Migraine Treatment: Are SPG blocks a practical solution?

spg blocks as migraine treatment calgary
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Have you ever had a migraine?

You’re not alone. I’ve had many patients come to me to try and find a permanent solution outside of the pharmaceutical options. A solution they hope to be a natural migraine remedy.

Researchers state that millions of Canadians suffer with migraines. Some estimates say that over 8% of the population has received an official migraine diagnosis.

Over 50% of migraine sufferers state that they haven’t been able to drive on certain occasions because of their condition. And over 75% say they can’t get a good night’s sleep when they have a migraine.

These are just the people who have received a diagnosis. Who knows how many others experience them on a regular basis but haven’t had one yet?

Medical researchers are constantly hard at work trying to find an effective migraine treatment. Calgary doctors and dentists who can provide migraine treatments can now offer their patients more treatment options than ever before.

One migraine treatment that’s available here in Calgary that hasn’t been given the attention it deserves yet involves SPG blocks or Spheno-Palantine-Ganglia blocks.

What are SPG blocks? Is it safe? Just how effective is this treatment option? In this article I hope to go in depth about this treatment option that may be new to some, but could possibly be their saving grace.


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Dr. Curtis Westersund, DDS

Dentist Calgary

Offering migraine and TMJ treatments


Migraine Treatment in Calgary: What are SPG blocks? Are they a safe migraine solution?

An SPG block – also known as a sphenopalatine ganglion block – is a treatment that’s barely mentioned in migraine help groups and forums, but can be considered a natural way to treat migraines by many neuromuscular health providers.

What’s involved in getting an SPG block?

The sphenopalatine ganglion is a nerve fiber cluster located behind the nose. These nerves are responsible for involuntary reflexes, such as

  • Sinus congestion
  • Sinus drainage
  • Watery eyes

This group of nerves connects to both the brain stem and the trigeminal nerve. All of these play a role in migraine and headaches.

spg by trigeminal nerve

Dentists would use a long-handled cotton swab soaked in an anesthetic like lidocaine to deliver the block.

The dentist inserts the swab into the patient’s nostril until it reached the sphenopalatine ganglion. Then, they would keep the swab on the ganglion for about 30 minutes. We use a hollow plastic tube with a small cotton swab. The tube is filled with Lidocaine anesthetic and gently fed in the nose to the back of the throat. Medical doctors may use a needle injection through the cheek under radiographic guidance.

Just how effective is a treatment with SPG block for migraine relief?

New trials have shown that migraine patients have experienced immediate pain reduction. In some cases, their pain was reduced for up to a month after treatment.

Another great thing about this treatment is that it works also for many different types of headaches.

Besides being an effective migraine treatment, medical practitioners have found SPG blocks to be effective in TAC headaches. TACs, or trigeminal autonomic cephalgias, are a group of headache disorders that include cluster headaches.

Some researchers even suggest that SPG blocks can treat PTSD and anxiety disorders. But is this treatment really that safe?

Thankfully, the answer is yes – this migraine treatment has a history for being a safe, effective procedure.

Multiple studies recorded in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Center for Biotechnology Information have found SPG blocks to be safe – both short-term and long-term.

Treating migraine pain successfully

Your dentist offering SPG blocks should be at the forefront of your migraine care team

Many people don’t realize that a dentist such as Dr. Curtis Westersund who offers TMJ treatments and other neuro-muscular dental services might be the person they need to help them with their migraines. The initial inclination is to make an appointment with their primary care physician.

Doctors don’t have all of the tools needed to treat every type of migraine, particularly those related to mechanical or structural issues. Many patients that come to our downtown Calgary dental office have mentioned that Dr. Westersund is doctor number 5 or even 6 in their journey to finding the right migraine treatment for them.

A dentist with a neuromuscular or physiologic focus in TMJ issues may also collaborate with other Health Care Providers to include assessment of a misalignment in the upper neck area that may influence the onset of migraine attacks.

When patients come into our Calgary dental office, we talk to them about all of their migraine symptoms. Then, we do a thorough examination to see what could be the root of the problem. If necessary, we take X-rays to give our treatment team and Dr. Westersund a better idea of the patient’s dentition, as well as their head and neck anatomy.

With these diagnostic tools, we’re able to create a treatment plan that fits the patient’s unique needs. They might need an oral orthotic and/or orthodontic treatment. Based on their anatomy and the restorative work they’ve had, we might need to do an equilibration (bite adjustment). Or, an SPG block might be the best option.

When under the care of our TMJ and migraine team, you can be sure that we’ll do our best to find the ideal Calgary migraine treatment for your needs.

Do you struggle with chronic migraines? Have you tried treatments and medications without success? Dr. Westersund is passionate about treating migraines and structural issues like TMJ disorder. No referral necessary.

Our team will do our very best to help you find relief from your migraine pain.



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