Stellate Ganglion Blocks for PTSD
A safe and minimally invasive treatment for the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and related anxiety and depression.
Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment Maryland
We now offer stellate ganglion blocks (SGB) as a new intervention for treating trauma-related disorders. The stellate ganglion block is an injection therapy that is shown to help reduce the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, along with anxiety and depression that may occur at the same time.
Those who struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression symptoms can speak with our clinical professionals to discuss SGB as a possible treatment option. We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all for mental health services and offer a tailored treatment strategy for each individual.
SGB Treatment Overview
A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anesthesia that is administered to the surrounding area of the stellate ganglion. The stellate ganglion is a concentration of nerves that are located in the neck and branch through the face and arms.
These nerves are part of the sympathetic nervous system, which makes up the larger autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system directly controls the body’s rapid involuntary response to stressful events as a way to protect itself.
The local anesthetic that is injected works by numbing the stellate ganglion to effectively “block,” the signals that are continuously being transported from the nerves to the brain. This numbing effect helps to stop the body’s fight or flight response, which reduces negative PTSD symptoms that stem from this response.
What does Shakthi Mean?
Shakthi (Shuk-thee) means Strength, Empowerment, and Agent of Change.
Frequently Asked Questions
We value the importance of the relationship between the doctor and the patient. That is why Dr. Jyothi Rao has taken the time to answer some of the most commonly asked questions at Shakthi Health & Wellness. View our FAQ page here.
What To Expect
Meet Our Doctors
Our team is composed of board certified medical doctors who are highly knowledgeable in the practice of holistic integrative therapies. Our Direct Primary Care model provides patients with in depth consults with each appointment without the restrictions of time limits and jumping through insurance hoops.
MD, ABAAHP, FAARFM
Dr. Jyothi Rao has been practicing medicine for over 20 years. She received her Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed her internship and residency at the prestigious New England Medical Center (Tufts) in Boston. Before opening Shakthi Health & Wellness Center, Dr. Rao practiced medicine in New York and Maryland.
Dr. Sudhir Rao obtained his Medical Doctorate from St. George's University School of Medicine, and is the founder of Pain and Spine Specialists. Despite Dr. Rao's years of training focusing on traditional medicine, he developed a strong interest in Functional and Integrative Medicine to treat chronic illness with alternative methods after a personal experience with limitations in traditional medicine.
PTSD: What Is It? What Are the Symptoms?
PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric illness that is caused by those that have either experienced or seen a traumatic event. these traumatic events can be either emotional or physical but are often life-threatening and have an impactful effect on the mental, social, physical, and spiritual well-being of the individual. This can include things like natural disasters, war, or physical/ sexual assault.
People that suffer from this have intrusive thoughts and feelings that can be triggered by any number of things that causes them to relive the feelings of that traumatic event. That means that these individuals tend to try to avoid situations and people that can trigger those events but it can be the smallest thing That sets off their post-traumatic stress and so it makes it very difficult to navigate through life.
No person’s post-traumatic stress disease shows itself in the same way. There are categories that each of these symptoms falls into of course. And so to understand post-traumatic stress disorder a little more understanding the symptoms could be vitally important. Here are the four main categories that the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder fall under:
This symptom can show itself by the individual experiencing distressing dreams or involuntary really remembering the traumatic event. In other words, it is what everyone calls flashbacks that have the individual seeing or experiencing everything they did at that moment.
The individual may find themselves becoming more introverted and isolated from people. This is because they are trying to avoid being triggered by anything that they feel could potentially trigger them. This means they may not want to talk about the event and that could be a potential problem.
Changes in Thoughts and Feelings
Their thoughts and feelings about people and themselves can be altered. They may blame themselves for the events that caused the trauma. They may the Ice Age was a very special time to begin to have certain feelings about others distorting their thoughts about them as well. They may begin to detach themselves and isolate themselves from those people and be unable to really experience the happier side of life.
They may experience the western United States wild mood swings. They may have sudden outbursts and be consistently irritable. Also, they can find themselves acting very reckless and self-destructive often leading to addiction and other issues in life. More technologically advanced this category of symptoms can also include things like being on edge at all times and having with sleep and concentration.
How Does PTSD Affect Your Life?
Post-traumatic stress disorder has a wide-reaching effect on not only the individual’s personal health but also their psychological and has something to do with their social lives. There are many ways that this illness affects their everyday life. Because of the symptoms, they may find themselves unable to function because their intrusive thoughts and flashbacks happen at a moment's notice without warning. This could make it hard to hold down a job or maintain their relationships.
Those that may once have been very social may find their circle of friends and activities shrinking. The uncomfortableness of not being able to know what is going to trigger you or how to interact with people because you've had alterations of your thoughts and feelings towards yourself and others could potentially make going out and enjoying your life very difficult. This may mean that you begin to cut yourself off from family and friends and things that once made you happy.
Not understanding the triggers and what the trauma has caused can create a situation where the individual begins to feel alone and misunderstood. This in turn will cause antisocial behavior and potentially could create other mental health issues like stress and anxiety as well as depression. All of this can lead to physical ramifications as well which combined together could impact one's life immensely.
Stellate Ganglion Block Procedure
During this procedure, the healthcare professional will use fluoroscopy to help guide them while they locate the exact spot for administering the injection. Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that involves a continuous x-ray image to create a real-time video of movements in the body.
Once the spot is located, the area will be cleaned with alcohol or another disinfectant solution to help prevent an infection from occurring and the patient may be given medication to help them relax if they need it.
Then the injection is given by inserting a thin needle into the neck, near the voice box, and the patient is monitored for a short period afterward to watch for signs of a reaction. The whole procedure should only take about fifteen minutes.
Many patients will already start to feel relief within thirty minutes after the injection and may continue seeing results for months or even years.
After The Procedure
Stellate ganglion blocks are given as an outpatient treatment, meaning the patient may go home the same day as the procedure. So, after the patient has shown no signs of an immediate negative reaction they will be cleared to go home.
However, patients may not drive for the first 24 hours after the procedure. Patients who receive SGB treatment will need to have someone present with them to drive them home.
Patients are instructed not to eat or drink anything for around the first four hours after the procedure. They may start to drink water again when their voice returns to normal and eat when they can swallow safely again.
Patients will also need to take it easy for the rest of the day and relax so as not to overextend themselves. They should not engage in aerobic activities, such as exercise, or heavy lifting. The patient should be able to return to work and regular activities the next day.
Mental Health Benefits
Stellate ganglion blocks are effective as a mental health treatment because they stop the body’s fight or flight response, which reduces negative symptoms stemming from this response. The local anesthetic that is injected works by numbing the stellate ganglion to effectively “block,” the signals that are continuously being transported from the nerves to the brain.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that develops when a person has experienced an incredibly scary and dangerous event or series of events, where lasting trauma is inflicted. People who experience PTSD are known to have intense emotional and physical reactions, such as flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and heightened reactions to things. Being in certain situations can trigger memories and lead to PTSD episodes.
Stellate ganglion blocks can help prevent distressing signals from being sent through the nerves and flooding the brain, while also turning off the fight or flight response. SGB therapy essentially resets the brain to bring it back to the pre-trauma levels of cognitive functioning. So patients can return to their regular lives with significant relief from episodes of PTSD.
Anxiety and anxiety symptoms may overlap with PTSD and SGB therapy has been shown by multiple peer-reviewed studies to significantly improve chronic anxiety symptoms stemming from PTSD. Anxiety is the body’s response to elevated stress levels and the cortisol-stress hormone coursing through the body.
The stellate ganglion nerves are known to be connected to the amygdala in the brain, which handles the way people experience emotions and is known as the core fear system in the body. SGB therapy numbs the nerves to prevent the anxiety response in the overactive amygdala, as the brain is no longer being told to stress out and fear. Anxiety attacks can be seriously reduced as a result and patients can feel much calmer on a normal basis.
Major Depressive Disorder can be comorbid in PTSD patients in about half of cases and leads to bouts of extreme sadness. Depression can occur in response to stress and trauma. When the stellate ganglion is numbed by SGB therapy less of the chemical norepinephrine is produced to contribute to stress.
Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter, which influences mood. Once that balance has been restored then depression symptoms ease.
Risks and Potential Side Effects
As with all medical treatments, there are some risks and potential side effects associated with stellate ganglion blocks. The chances of a complication occurring are relatively low but possible. Complications can range from a mild infection or bleeding/bruising at the site of injection to nerve damage.
Some side effects will most likely manifest directly after the injection and should go away after a few hours. These side effects could be:
- Drooping eyelids (a very common side effect)
- Nasal stuffiness
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Impairment in swallowing
- Sense of balance is thrown off
- Feeling warmth in the face or tingling in the arm/hand
If you are interested in learning more about our SGB treatments maryland and packages, or would like to schedule an appointment with our office, CALL Shakthi Health and Wellness Center today! Speak with our dedicated staff to schedule your consultation with Dr. Jyothi Rao and begin optimizing your body’s vitality. Call (301) 703-5067 and speak to our direct primary care staff today!
We believe in practicing medicine that focuses on whole-body health. As integrative medicine doctors, we focus on the root cause of your condition with comprehensive treatments that actually heal the body rather than just masking the symptoms of your illness.
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I started by seeing Dr. Sudhir Rao for my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome. I had an accident in July 2010 that caused nerve damage in my ankle. After treatments and surgery, it spread up the entire left side of my body. The only way to describe how you feel is by saying you’re a human pinball machine ? you just never know where the pain is going to be that minute. I had asked about acupuncture because someone had told me that it worked for them. I was at the point of trying anything to lessen the pain because it was getting worse every day.
- Susan Doyle
I am actually a relatively healthy 50-year-old woman. I try to eat well and exercise, but I (like many) felt the creep of age in the form a subtle pounds and decreasing energy. Dr. Rao helped point me in the direction of the correct detox program for me (Core Restore!) as well as the supplements I needed to boost my metabolism and increase my energy! I still need to eat what works for me and avoid the things that don't, and I still have to exercise every day, but my clothes fit better and I have more energy!!
I came to see Dr. Rao with symptoms of chronic fatigue, abdominal pains, depression, and weight gain. I had seen a couple other doctors and they had found that I had very high inflammation levels and over 15 food allergies/sensitivities. They wanted me to just take prescription drugs, but I wanted more than a quick fix. I wanted my health and my life back! When I scheduled the appointment, I was surprised how by helpful Kelly was on the phone. I didn’t know the details of my insurance coverage and Kelly offered to call my insurance for me. I’ve never had anyone at a doctor’s office do that before.
- Anna Smoot
After visiting the Shakthi website and reading other patient testimonials, I was curious about the wide variety of treatments that were available. I have a very slow metabolism, was fatigued, had insomnia, back pain, and just didn’t feel as well as I wanted to in general. I had more allergic reactions and respiratory issues in the preceding months before coming to see Dr. Jyothi Rao. I had completed three courses of prednisone while under the treatment of my traditional doctor and was fed up with that cycle and was looking for another path.
- Debbie Helman
I was given the gift of Dr. Rao's primary care for Christmas in 2016. I didn?t take advantage of it until March of 2017. My mindset at the time was negative. I had heard about changing eating habits and I felt that I liked the foods I was eating and I was nearly 70, so why change now? After meeting with Dr. Rao and hearing her suggestions, I said I would take it one small step at a time and see what happens.
I was in the worst shape of my life with depression and anxiety. I had given up.
Shakthi provided me with a manageable plan that included supplements, diet, and an exercise program that has transformed my body and given me a new outlook on life. Perhaps the most surprising outcome was learning how to be healthy and have a good relationship with my body. I am now more productive, energetic, and focused. The fog that had been clouding my thoughts has lifted.
What To Expect
How Treatment Works
Our doctors and staff take time to get invested in your health and well-being. We've taken a step back from mainstream medicine and are challenging the norm. Everyone's healthcare needs are different. You are different. We believe patients shouldn't settle. Our practice is not a revolving door. We listen, and most importantly, we hear you.
Appointments are conducted on an as-needed basis. Patients can expect appointments to be more thorough and focused on their needs. As direct primary care doctors, we see a limited number of patients which means each of our patients receives dedicated care without the concern of being “rushed” our of an appointment.
We offer patients scientifically backed health assessments to better understand the root causes of their health conditions. We evaluate any disruptions to your health and body to develop effective wellness plans to optimize your vitality. To learn more about the specific tests we offer visit this page here.
Patients receive personalized and tailored care in exchange for a flat fee. Overall cost will be discussed during your initial consultation. Each subsequent appointment will not need to be individually paid for. All patients receive unlimited access to their physicians which leads to better overall health and wellness.