Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder showing promise

Stellate ganglion block clinical trial under way

SAN DIEGO - Stellate ganglion block, which was initially used to treat patients for pain in their upper extremities, is showing promise in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.   

"It changed my life," said Navy veteran Ed McGonagle.

The treatment consists of injecting an anesthetic into the neck to block nerve receptors.  

"The injection took away anxiety in 30 minutes," said Chicago doctor Eugene Lipov, who pioneered the treatment.

The bigger questions for medical professionals, however, are how many shots and how long does it last.

Researchers at the San Diego Naval Medical Center are conducting a clinical trial.

Rear Adm. Forrest Faison, who commands the Naval Medical Center, said the results look promising so far.

However, he cautioned that when it comes to the treatment of PTSD, there is no one size that fits all. The study by the military is ongoing.

Advanced Health Solutions in San Diego is also doing a case study of nearly 100 patients who have had the SGB treatment.  

"We, too, don't know on average how many shots, or how long the treatment is effective, but that's part of the ongoing case study," said Dr. Maryam Navalie, who is with Advance Health Solutions.

As for McGonagle, who said his anxiety was so bad he could not leave the house or deal with people, he said that was all a thing of the past.

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