SGB Ultrasound

Hand-held ultrasound shows soft tissue of the neck during SGB treatment.

Since Sept 2020 I’ve had five Stellate Ganglion Blocks (SGBs) as a treatment for my Complex PTSD. This minimally invasive and largely safe treatment has been used to treat PTSD for about 10 years and shows remarkably impressive results with long-lasting and even permanent relief. 

I was initially doubtful because studies are largely on young vets with PTSD from war, rather than older people with Complex/Developmental Trauma. However, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Eugene Lipov, who developed the procedure for PTSD. He told me that in his experience “hypervigilance is hypervigilance,” effectiveness depends on individual response, “how much trauma they’ve had and how long they’ve had it,” and with my complex and compounded trauma he felt I had about a 50% chance of success.

The good doctor was right! Each treatment gave my nervous system the opportunity to downregulate or recalculate my threat level. Aside from tinnitus and chronic muscle tension, all other symptoms were dampened. Access to my prefrontal cortex (PFC) increased, energy and spirits rose, and pretty much everything was easier. For about two weeks. This is a fraction of the usual 1-3 month relief.

Symptom Creep and Ongoing Trauma

At about 14 days “symptom creep” came on rapidly and my functionality went down in seemingly equal measure. During the first treatment gap of 35 days, my condition quickly deteriorated until the last two weeks I was near death and very near death.

Fortunately, tho I am a difficult/complex case, the SGB treatments still seem to “build on each other” as others describe. Gradually, my baseline anxiety level has gone down, as has the level of ambient pain. This is a great relief!

It occurred to me that ongoing traumatic events are a significant factor in my SGB effectiveness window. I would have a better response to SGB if I could focus only on healing my nervous system instead of dealing with continuing trauma. I can’t control most things, but I can avoid some triggering things.

Medical Trauma Hiatus = Forward Motion

After two particularly bad experiences with new providers, which heavily triggered me and caused me great dissociation, I determined it best to suspend all medical interactions except those with providers I can trust to not trigger/harm me. I canceled all others, including consults, tests, and screenings, even my dental check-up. Now, I can focus as exclusively on healing my nervous system as possible.

Soon we will complete SGB #6, which will be a left-sided procedure instead of the usual right. This due to new info I found at Dr. Sean Mulvaney’s site. He reports that a small number of patients, who respond well to the right side, will respond profoundly to the left. Fingers crossed!

Good sources of more info about SGB for PTSD:

Dr. Eugene Lipov’s new Stella Center

Dr. Sean Mulvaney’s site

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1 Response to SGB for PTSD

  1. Pingback: Complex PTSD Recovery Tools | Shay Seaborne, CPTSD 🧠 #TraumaAwareAmerica

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