Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) therapy can be effective for people diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Of course, as with nearly any medical intervention, side effects are possible.  If you are in the Seattle area, you can consult with Dr. Jason Attaman to find out whether SGB is right for you.

Stellate Ganglion Block Overview

SGB is an injection that blocks signals from the stellate ganglion, the bundle of nerves that strongly influences a person’s flight-or-fight response. As PTSD stimulates these at the wrong times, a temporary block provides a “reset” that allows the stellate ganglion to begin functioning normally again. It reverts to sending distress signals only when genuine, immediate distress is more likely to be present. 

SGB is a therapy best performed by physicians trained in Interventional Pain Management, those who have completed Pain Medicine Fellowships. Nevertheless, at least from the patient’s point of view, the therapy is a simple injection guided by ultrasound or fluoroscopy to provide accuracy into the correct nerve. 

Side Effects of Stellate Ganglion Block for PTST

No procedure is perfect, and each has its side effects. Most of these symptoms disappear within a few hours of the injection appointment.  Possible side effects of SGB include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Bruising or soreness at the injection site
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • A hoarse voice
  • Feeling a lump in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Warmth or tingling in the arm or hand

Most of our patients find these side effects a small price to pay for the lasting and immediate symptom relief that SGB can give them. Many of our patients have been able to start living life fully again due to SGB therapy. 

Rare Complications of Stellate Ganglion Block

Serious complications occur in some patients, though they sre rare. These potential complications include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding from a vascular puncture
  • Nerve damage
  • Thyroid injuries
  • Esophageal and tracheal punctures
  • A collapsed lung

These serious complications often occur when an underqualified or inexperienced physician administers the procedure. For example, we’ve seen naturopaths and nurse practitioners offering this procedure. It is very dangerous for them to do so, unless they have the qualifications and experience of a medical doctor. 

The easiest way to avoid complications is by working with an Interventional Pain Management Doctor like Dr. Jason Attaman (in Bellevue, WA), who specializes in pain management. Dr. Attaman has performed SGB procedures for over twelve years. 

Get Help Today

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) conducted a study that verified the efficacy of SGB for PTSD relief. The procedure has been performed safely for nearly a century. 

SGBs may be used with therapy to relieve symptoms such as panic attacks, flashbacks, and more. You may repeat the procedure as many times as you need. 

If you feel you may be a good candidate for an SGB, you can schedule an appointment by calling Dr. Attaman’s office today.

About the Author: Phil Rozek

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