Stellate Ganglion Block to Treat PTSD in Grieving or Bereaved People

You may not want to “get over” or “work past” your loss, because you’re not sure you can or should, soon or at all.  You feel pain for a very good and understandable reason: Someone you’ve loved is gone.  You may meet again someday, but until then you need to cope in your own way.  That means, for one thing, that you don’t want to numb yourself to pain, but you can’t ignore it, either.  There is a balance to strike, and that’s how things will eventually get better.

But PTSD can disrupt and drag out the whole healing process.  Whether you have flashbacks to “the” accident, or to moment you got the bad news, or to your last interaction with your loved one, the physical and psychological effects of PTSD can add new layers of anguish.  Your reactions to everyday events and interactions can be like a wound that keeps getting infected and re-infected.  You’re in a better position to cope if you can get the PTSD under control.

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 struggling to cope with the loss of someone you’ve loved, it’s very likely you’ve seen a psychologist or psychiatrist – perhaps for years – 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.  It’s not an either-or type of treatment.

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 officersIt’s effective for a wide range of PTSD sufferers, including people racked by grief or bereavement.

I (Dr. Jason Attaman) have helped people in all kinds of situations overcome their PTSD.  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:

  • You’re not trying to deaden your feelings or “tune out.”  You want to get PTSD out of the way precisely so that you can cope with your loss.
  • 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 grieving and bereaved people calm their nerves, move past PTSD, and regain control of their lives and focus on healthy coping strategies.  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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