'Nerve block' to neck might help ease hot flashes - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

'Nerve block' to neck might help ease hot flashes

Updated:

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Women suffering from hot flashes might get some relief through an injection of an anesthetic near a nerve bundle in the neck, a small new study finds.

This technique, called a stellate ganglion block, is a common treatment for pain and might be an alternative for women who can't take or are reluctant to take hormone replacement therapy, the researchers said.

"Women are looking for nonhormonal alternatives for hot flashes," said senior researcher Pauline Maki, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Maki said some women who had a stellate ganglion block to relieve pain also reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes, which is what led to this study.

"The findings from our study provide some compelling data that this procedure may offer women a novel, nonhormonal approach to controlling their hot flashes," she said.

The procedure isn't painless, and the most common side effect is pain at the injection site. "If a woman wants to try this procedure, she needs to go to a trained anesthesiologist," Maki said.

The study, which received support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Northwestern University, was published recently in the online edition of the journal Menopause.

Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said, "stellate ganglion block is a very exciting area for research for treatment of moderate to severe hot flashes."

Gass said many women -- particularly those with breast cancer -- might find stellate ganglion block an acceptable alternative to hormone therapy or antidepressants such as Paxil, which have been approved to treat hot flashes.

More research is needed, however, to see how well stellate ganglion block stacks up against other treatments, she said.

"These initial reports beg for larger and longer studies," Gass said. "We want to know how long the treatment lasts, how often it would need to be repeated, whether this is the ideal dose and if hot flashes return. We don't know the answers to these questions."

Not everyone sees the benefit of the nerve-block procedure.

"It's great that it decreases the number of severe hot flashes, but patients still have hot flashes a lot of times per day," said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "That's still really disruptive."

"I am not sure that a majority of patients will want to try this therapy," she said.

For the study, Maki's group randomly assigned 40 women, aged 30 to 70, with moderate to severe hot flashes to receive either stellate ganglion block or a fake treatment with a plain saline solution.

On average, these women had 10 hot flashes a day, with two-thirds either moderate or severe. Moderate hot flashes were defined as those lasting up to 15 minutes with symptoms such as perspiration, clammy skin, dry mouth, tense muscles and rapid heartbeat.

Severe hot flashes were those lasting up to 20 minutes with symptoms such as "raging furnace" warmth, weakness, feeling faint, extreme perspiration and heart irregularities.

For six months, the women reported the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. In addition, for the first three months after treatment, the women wore a monitor that objectively measured hot flashes.

Although the total number of hot flashes was about the same in both groups, the number of moderate to severe hot flashes was significantly reduced among the women given the nerve block, the researchers found.

The number of moderate to severe hot flashes was cut by 52 percent among women who got the nerve block, compared with 4 percent for women who got the fake injection, the researchers said.

What's more, the intensity of the hot flashes was cut by 38 percent for the women who got the nerve block, compared with 8 percent for those given the placebo injection, the researchers said.

"We don't know why this works, but it opens up new avenues for exploring the generation of hot flashes," Maki said. Moreover, the findings might lead to new ways to treat hot flashes, she added.

The researchers said they would like to do a study among women with breast cancer -- for whom hormone therapy for hot flashes is not recommended -- to see if a stellate ganglion block could be an alternative treatment, Maki said.

"[Women with breast cancer] experience more hot flashes than other women, and, unfortunately, they can't take hormone therapy," she said. "That will be the group that will likely benefit most from this."

More information

For more about hot flashes, visit the North American Menopause Society.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:15:09 GMT
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
  • New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:00:21 GMT
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.
    more>>
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.

    more>>
  • Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-04-21 22:15:09 GMT
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.
    more>>
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.

    more>>
  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
  • Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:15:13 GMT
    CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Eric Robinson alive after he went into cardiac arrest. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
    A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest. CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.