How Can Stellate Ganglion Block Help With PTSD?
It’s indeed a fact that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent disorder in the US, affecting about 3.5% of adults every year. The condition is often characterized by a failure to recover from a traumatic event like injury, natural disaster, losing a loved one or being physically or sexually assaulted.
When someone goes through a traumatic event, they can suffer from an acute stress reaction that can last for about a year. However, in patients diagnosed with PTSD, people usually try to avoid the triggers which bring back memories, and the stress associated with it can be chronic.
While there are several ways to treat PTSD, a new treatment is just around the corner. Stellate ganglion block for PTSD is a new way to manage the trauma and involves injecting long-acting local anesthesia in the right side of the neck.
Wondering how a shot can help you manage the disorder? Read on to find out.
An Overview On PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious stress disorder that is developed once someone goes through a traumatic event like serving in the military, a severe injury or accident, someone else being killed, a loved one dying by suicide or a homicide etc.
The symptoms may include-
- Flashbacks or nightmares about the event
- Severe anxiety
- Trust issues
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Social isolation
- Loss of interest
- Emotional detachment
The condition might also co-exist with depression. The standard treatment for PTSD includes anti-anxiety pills and SSRIs. The patients are also suggested to take therapies, trauma-focused psychotherapies or virtual reality re-exposure therapy.
However, taking SSRIs and anxiolytics comes with a number of side effects like weight gain, detachment and slowed mental functioning.
The Science Behind Stellate Ganglion Block
Before we explain how SGB actually works, let’s take a look at stellate ganglion.
Stellate ganglion is a group of nerves present at the back of your neck. These nerves are the command center that activates your sympathetic impulses sent to the brain.
In short, when one experiences a trigger for a traumatic event, the body releases stress hormones which activate the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the flashbacks and anxiety that one feels while suffering from PTSD. SGB blocks the stellate ganglion to send the sympathetic impulses to the brain, hence relieving you of the symptoms.
Stellate ganglion block was traditionally used to treat widespread pain since the 1940s. The technique was also used to manage complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). However, according to a study conducted in 1990, the technique can also help you manage PTSD symptoms.
The Process of Stellate Ganglion Block
Stellate ganglion block for PTSD is entirely safe and painless. While it might come with slight side effects, it can help you manage the symptoms at a great level.
Before starting with the treatment, a medical professional will first check your vitals and lay you down on your back on an X-ray table. If the physician is conducting a right-sided technique, you will be required to turn your neck slightly leftwards. An X-ray image of your neck will be taken using a fluoroscopy machine.
The entire process will be guided through a Fluoroscopy machine. A 2-inch syringe containing contrast dye will be introduced into the right side of your neck. Once the needle touches your cervical spine, the dye will be injected inside the neck. Once the medical professional ensures the passage is safe, they will inject a 7cc local anesthesia in your neck to block the stellate ganglion receptors.
As stated above, the entire process is absolutely safe, and you might start to feel relief from your symptoms almost instantly. You might be required to tell your doctor if you’re feeling an overall odd feeling or slight tingles during the procedure.
After the procedure, you might experience side effects like drooping of the eyelid, eye redness and absence of sweating on one side of your face. The doctor may recommend another round of the stellate ganglion block for PTSD if the first procedure provides you with relief.