PTSD, Generalized Anxiety and Nexus Pain Specialists
PTSD and Generalized Anxiety can be debilitating, preventing the individual from living the life they desire. What’s more, the emotional toll is passed onto their families and communities. Anyone who has lived with someone who has an anxiety disorder knows that it can become a constant struggle to help them maintain control of their emotions. Here at Nexus Pain Care, we are familiar with recent studies that indicate a simple procedure can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD and Generalized Anxiety.
We can perform a simple, ten minute procedure that can potentially relieve a lifetime of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This procedure is called a Stellate Ganglion Block.
What is a Stellate Ganglion Block?
Within our autonomic nervous system (the division of our nervous system that regulates bodily function without conscious effort), there are two divisions that serve to counterbalance our internal state: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when our body needs to “rest-and-digest”, whereas the sympathetic nervous system is activated when our body needs a “fight-or-flight” response. This response to external stressors is healthy and normal, but when the stressor is extreme or present for long periods of time, the “fight-or-flight” response becomes constant and exaggerated. Such is the case when someone has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In addition, conventional treatments for PTSD include cognitive behavioral therapy and the use of antidepressant/antipsychotic drugs. While improvements have been observed, many patients do not achieve complete remission. Individuals may become dependent on their daily regimen of medication.
The cost and duration of these treatments is something else to consider. According to the Veteran’s Health Administration1, the average cost of care for someone diagnosed with PTSD during their first year of treatment was $8,300. Considering that many patients with this disorder require years of treatment, the charges become substantial.
Recently, studies have shown that a single stellate ganglion block, a procedure which temporarily shuts off a portion of the sympathetic nervous system, can provide long term relief for those suffering from PTSD. In a study conducted by Alkire et al,2 twelve patients underwent the procedure and nine reported positive results that occurred almost immediately. Importantly, “…anxiety, depression and psychological pain scores… were significantly reduced by the block.” The long term benefit of this procedure was reported in a similar study conducted by Mulvaney et al,3 where “one patient requested repeat treatment after 3 months, and the post-treatment score remained below the PTSD cutoff after 7 additional months of follow-up. Both patients [in this study] discontinued all antidepressant and antipsychotic medications while maintaining [improvements].” Similar results have been seen in other studies.4,5
1. The Veterans Health Administration's Treatment of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury Among Recent Combat Veterans. (2015). Retrieved September 28, 2016, from https://www.cbo.gov/publication/42969
2. Alkire MT, Hollifield M, Khoshsar R, et al. Prolonged Relief of Chronic Extreme PTSD and Depression Symptoms in Veterans Following a Stellate Ganglion Block. Presented at American society for Anesthesiology. 11 Oct 2014
3. Mulvaney SW, McLean B, de Leeuw J: The use of stellate ganglion block in the treatment of panic/anxiety symptoms with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder: preliminary results of long-term follow-up: a case series. Pain Pract 2010; 10(4): 359–65.
4. Hicky A, et al.: Stellate ganglion block for PTSD. Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 1;169(7):760.
5. Alino J, Kostka D, McLean B, et al. 5. Efficacy of Stellate Ganglion Block in the Treatment of Anxiety Symptoms From Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. Mil Med, 2013; 178:473-7.
Medical Costs Associated with This Treatment
Using a Stellate Ganglion block to treat PTSD is a relatively new form of treatment. Only within the last few years has it been studied. Medical insurance companies are slow in their evaluation process to provide coverage for new and emerging treatments. Most likely, it will be years before insurance companies will approve this as a covered procedure. However, when we consider the financial and emotional costs of PTSD, and witness the efficacy of Stellate ganglion blocks in treating the condition, we feel that waiting for insurance companies to approve this method of treatment is unjustified. Rather, we would like to move forward immediately and begin to treat people suffering from PTSD. We provide these services at an affordable self-pay prices.