Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops in response to being exposed to extreme stress, serious injury, and/or sexual trauma. The symptoms of PTSD present themselves as an assortment of psychiatric conditions: Nightmares, severe anxiety, insomnia, hyper-vigilance and over reactivity being the most pronounced. The sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) has been long known to play a part in PTSD. It is believed that extra nerves of this system sprout or grow after extreme trauma leading to elevated levels of norepinephrine (an adrenaline-like substance) which, in turn, over activates the amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This chain of events results in PTSD symptoms that may persist for years .
A part of the sympathetic nervous system, called Stellate Ganglion (a collection of nerves in the neck) seems to control the activation of the amygdala. A recent innovation offers potential in rapidly treating symptoms of PTSD for a prolonged period of time. Placing an anesthetic agent on the stellate ganglion, in an anesthetic procedure called Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) can relieve the symptoms of PTSD in as little as 30 minutes and last for years. SGB “reboots” the sympathetic nervous system to its pre-trauma state, similar to a computer reboot. In the brain, norepinephrine levels are rapidly reduced and the extra nerve growth is removed. SGB is an anesthetic procedure that has been performed since 1925 and is considered a low risk pain procedure done under x-ray guidance.
For more information about this procedure, see more of the article from which this quote was taken by Dr. Lipov, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist, is a recognized expert in the biological causes as well as treatment of PTSD and has written extensively on PTSD, SGB, and other pain-related subjects. Dr. Lipov published the first of his many articles on SGB / PTSD in 2008. The first military physician to use SGB to treat PTSD was Dr. Brian McLean, a pain management specialist practicing at Walter Reed Hospital at that time. Dr. McLean was alerted to the novel uses of SGB by Dr. Sean Mulvaney, a fellow military physician who appeared in the 60 Minutes segment. Drs. McLean and Mulvaney have collectively performed ~ 2,000 SGB / PTSD procedures since each learned of it, saving many lives. A video with Dr. Lipov and Dr. McLean detailing the origins of the SGB as a highly efficacious and rapid treatment for removing symptoms of PTSD can be found here: https://youtu.be/Tp8SHn_eo9U. This article is an update to the research Anxiety.org published several years ago