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So many letters, what does it all mean? PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. This may include a natural disaster, combat, personal assault, or other accidents. In fact, it’s the third most common psychiatric diagnosis among veterans seen in the VA system.  It is a type of anxiety disorder that can have devastating effects in one’s life. It can impact personal relationships, social and work situations, and the ability to perform normal daily activities.

Psychological counseling is critical in the diagnosis and treatment. Traditional treatments have included the use of antidepressants and psychotherapy. The types of therapy may include cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.

Additional research has shown that SGB, or stellate ganglion blocks can be an effective treatment in combination with therapy. There was a segment on 60 Minutes  (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sgb-a-possible-breakthrough-treatment-for-ptsd-60-minutes-2019-06-16/) in June of this year highlighting the great response that patients are experiencing.  Stellate ganglion blocks are injections performed under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance. The stellate ganglion is part of the cervical sympathetic chain which is involved in what is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response.  In patients with PTSD, the “fight or flight” response is in overdrive and the injection of an anesthetic helps to turn off this response. The injection can alleviate symptoms such as hyperarousal, exaggerated startle responses and anxiety. Ultimately, this may then allow for greater benefit and progress with psychological counseling.  This is an outpatient procedure. It occasionally may take more than one of these injections to sustain benefit.  These are simple injections to perform by skilled interventional spine practitioners such as our doctors here at Regenexx Pittsburgh.  They are safe and may yield dramatic relief.

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