Approximately 8 million adults in the United States suffer from PTSD symptoms. Successful treatment of PTSD varies from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

More recently, there have been multiple medical studies completed that show that an SGB has significant long-term effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD. Discussed below are the SGB procedure and its side effects.

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event or series of events. Individuals may experience this as emotionally or physically painful and it can affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being.

A traumatic event is any event, or series of events, that causes extreme stress. These events make someone feel a sense of horror and helplessness, or that the event will cause serious injury or death.

Examples of traumatic events include natural disasters, severe accidents, war/combat, sexual assault, or partner violence.

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Symptoms of PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, healthcare providers must confirm that patients have experienced all of the following types of symptoms for a minimum of one month prior to a diagnosis of PTSD.

  • One or More Re-Experiencing Symptoms
    • Flash Backs, Nightmares, Frightening Thoughts
  • One or More Avoidance Symptoms
    • Avoiding Places, Events, and/or Objects that Relate to Traumatic Events
  • Two or More Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms
    • Feeling Startled, Tense, Restless, and/or Angry
  • Two or More Cognition and Mood Symptoms
    • Misremembering the Event, Negative Thoughts, and/or Feeling Guilty

What is Stellate Ganglion Block?

A stellate ganglion block or SGB is a medical procedure where an injection of long-lasting local anesthetic is injected into the neck near the main nerve that controls the fight or flight response.

The fight or flight response is issued by our sympathetic nervous system via the cervical sympathetic chain. The cervical sympathetic chain sends signals to the central autonomic network.

The SGB blocks the stellate ganglion nerves allowing the sympathetic nervous system to rest resulting in long-term relief of PTSD symptoms.

Ganglion Block (SGB) Procedure

Once you have been checked in at the medical center, the paperwork is signed, and vitals have been taken you will be asked to lie down and an IV will be started. They will administer intravenous medication to calm you throughout the procedure.

A pain specialist will use either an x-ray or ultrasound guidance to find the stellate ganglion near the base of the neck. Once they find the stellate ganglion, they will inject a local anesthetic near the nerve.

The entire procedure takes less than thirty minutes to complete. You will be monitored post-injection by either a doctor or nurse practitioner to ensure the procedure was successful before being sent home.

Side Effects of SGB

There are minimal side effects from the SGB treatment. The most common side effects are bruising, soreness, drooping eyes, tearing up, and nasal stuffiness. These symptoms disappear within hours of having the procedure.

The majority of patients have minimal chance of complications with this procedure. If a patient is on blood thinners or has an active infection this procedure is not recommended.

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At the Arizona Pain and Spine Institute we are excited to offer cutting-edge treatments. One treatment is the use of amniotic fluid-derived regenerative medicine stem cells. These stem cells restore damaged soft tissues and provide an additional anti-inflammatory effect.

If you are interested in learning more about SGB for PTSD or regional pain syndrome contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled pain specialists!