Stellate Ganglion Block to Treat PTSD in Victims of Sexual Assault or Abuse

If you were sexually assaulted or abused, you may be so used to pain that PTSD feels just like the latest chapter.  Most likely you were the victim of repeated attacks or abuses years ago, which may have lasted for years, perhaps since childhood.  You may have had some form of PTSD for a long time now, or perhaps it was set off by a recent development, like a new relationship or milestone in a relationship.

You may know that you can heal or deal, but your PTSD symptoms are in the way.  The trauma keeps itself fresh in your mind.  If you can block it out for at least a while, you are sure you can build or resume the kind of life you want.

Stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a completely medical procedure that can help break the cycle by calming your reactions to PTSD triggers.   If you’re a victim of sexual assault or abuse, it’s very likely you’ve seen a psychologist or psychiatrist, and that that mode of therapy has helped to one degree.    SGB is complementary to therapy, in that it can work in tandem with a therapist’s efforts, or can pick up where they left off.

The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerves that is located deep in the lower neck. It is located within the cervical sympathetic chain. Sympathetic nerves play a strong role in our fight-or-flight response. When you have PTSD, these nerves malfunction and are constantly sending distress signals to your brain and body. Injecting local anesthetic (numbing medicine) around these nerves is called a stellate ganglion block (SGB). SGB resets these nerves that are chronically in fight-or-flight response. This is similar to rebooting your computer; after the “SGB reboot,” your nerves function normally. Stellate ganglion block (SGB) injections need to be performed under either ultrasound and/or fluoroscopic guidance as there are major blood vessels and organs nearby. The SGB injection is not new and has been used for 100 years to treat painful conditions such as chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) of the upper extremity. More recently, SGB is being used to treat PTSD.

Contrary to popular belief, stellate ganglion block is not only a PTSD treatment option for veterans and law-enforcement officers. It’s effective for a wide range of PTSD sufferers, including victims of sexual assault or abuse.

I (Dr. Jason Attaman) have helped people in allooooo kinds of situations overcome their PTSD.  About 80% of my PTSD patients who suffered sexual assault / abuse are women, and about 20% are men.  Besides my medical experience, I am in a unique position to help because I understand a few things that may be true of your situation:

  • Particularly if you’re a woman, you may be anxious around all or most men.  It’s not personal, and perhaps it wasn’t always that way, but ever since the abuse, it’s not a reaction you can control.
  • You may be even more anxious in one-on-one settings.  That may have been an issue even before the trauma, but has worsened dramatically over the years.
  • You feel you’ve exhausted your options, between therapy, antidepressants or other medications, and advice from others.  Those may have helped, but you’re not out of the woods yet, and your time and patience are stretched thin.
  • You worry the treatment may be painful, and you are concerned that you might not be in control.

In my care, you’re always in the driver’s seat, and what you are comfortable with is exactly what we’ll do.  With stellate ganglion block I have helped many sexual assault and abuse victims calm their nerves, move past PTSD, and regain control of their lives.  It is fulfilling for me and doubly so for my patients.  You can contact my office in Bellevue, WA to discuss your needs and to schedule an appointment.

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