Stellate Ganglion Blocks

What is a stellate ganglion block?

The stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a procedure in which an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic, using ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance, is made in the right side of the neck around the main nerve that controls the “fight or flight” response (the sympathetic nervous system). This nerve, (the cervical sympathetic chain) which is a two-way conduit, connects the parts of the brain that control the fight or flight response (referred to as the central autonomic network) to the rest of the body. By blocking or “turning off” the traffic in the cervical sympathetic chain, it is believed that the parts of the brain that control the fight or flight response are allowed to completely reset, resulting in long-term relief of the associated anxiety symptoms.

Multiple peer-reviewed medical studies show that a right-sided SGB results in significant long-term improvement in chronic anxiety symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). The SGB takes less than 15 minutes to perform, and benefits are seen in as little as 30 minutes.

How does SGB work to help PTSD symptoms?

The stellate ganglion is part of the cervical sympathetic chain, a key part of the sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” nervous system.) In PTSI and some other anxiety conditions, the “fight or flight” nervous system gets stuck in the “ON” position. By precisely placing long-acting local anesthetic (ropivacaine) around the stellate ganglion, the unproductive and chronic “fight or flight” response is turned off for several hours. This allows neurotransmitters in the brain to “reset” back to a non-anxiety state. This “resetting” results in long-term relief of anxiety symptoms. The SGB may improve daily activities, sleep, relationships, mood, employment and more.

Facts about Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Higher Success Rates

More than 78.6% success rates in PTSD patients compared to traditional methods.

Reduce Symptom Severity

By addressing the symptoms, benefits may include improved quality of life, better sleeping habits, decreased alcohol use, improved cognitive function, healthier relationships and more!

Reset Fight or Flight Response

The SGB treatment resets the brain to pre-traumatic levels and results can occur within 30 minutes post-treatment.

Reset Fight or Flight Response

Anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, Nicotine Dependence, Migraines, Facial Pain, Upper Extremity Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Hot Flashes, and more!

What does a stellate ganglion block treat?

A stellate ganglion block blocks the sympathetic nerves that go to the arms, and, to some degree, the sympathetic nerves that go to the face. This may in turn reduce pain, swelling, color and sweating changes in the upper extremity and may improve mobility.

While traditionally used to treat pain, a stellate ganglion block injection has proven to be an effective treatment for people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression by regulating the sympathetic nervous system. A patient is likely to benefit from repeat treatment if they have positive response with this procedure. 

What are the risks?

The risk of complications from a stellate ganglion block is very low. However, there could be bruising or soreness at the injection site. Serious complications, including infection, bleeding and nerve damage, are uncommon.

What is the procedure like?

Patients are typically given an intravenous medication to relax them prior to the injection.

The doctor will insert a thin needle into your neck, near your voice box, and inject a local anesthetic. Then, with x-ray or ultrasound guidance, he or she will insert a second needle and carefully inject an anesthetic medication.

Usually, the procedure takes only a few minutes, and you can go home the same day after being monitored in the recovery room.

How long do the effects last?

The effectiveness of a stellate ganglion block is different for every individual. The blockade of the sympathetic nerves can sometimes last permanently. For most patients, however, interruption of the sympathetic nerves provides temporary relief. Repeated injections can sometimes cause progressive lessening of symptoms. Your doctor will discuss this with you.

Is it right for me?

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and have not responded to other therapies, a stellate ganglion block might prove to be an effective treatment option for you. Fill out our brief questionnaire and our medical staff will reach out to you to schedule a consultation