New Treatment: Stellate Ganglion Blocks for Long-Term COVID Symptoms
September 14, 2022
Stellate ganglion blocks (SGB) is a procedure that affects the “fight or flight” response. This is tied to the sympathetic nervous system, a nerve that connects parts of the brain which control the central autonomic network to the rest of the body.
Multiple studies have shown that a right-sided SGB procedure results in a long-term improvement to chronic anxiety conditions. The sympathetic nervous system is “turned off” through the SGB procedure, allowing that part of the brain to reset. The procedure takes less than 15 minutes to complete, and benefits have been reported in as little as 30 minutes.
Stellate Ganglion Block for Symptoms of COVID-19
Stellate Ganglion Blocks can be used to reduce or eliminate symptoms brought on by COVID-19.
Common symptoms of COVID that affect people long-term are:
- Parosmia (altered sense of taste/smell) and Anosmia. While most patients recover their sense of taste and smell, some experience significant problems with their diet or nutrition.
- Brain Fog. Some patients continue to have difficulty with memory and concentration.
- Fatigue. Often patients report feeling tired in their head, neck, and upper torso.
The stellate ganglion, part of the cervical sympathetic chain, is key to the sympathetic nervous system. When someone is living with symptoms from COVID or anxiety induced by their ailments, their “fight or flight” response is always triggered as “on,” as if there is no off switch. The SGB procedure injects a long-lasting anesthetic around the stellate ganglion which turns off the “fight or flight” response for a few hours. During this time, the brain has the chance to reset, and the neurotransmitters go back to non-anxiety mode.
Stellate ganglion blocks can improve many aspects of life that is affected by remaining symptoms of COVID, like sleep, relationships, mood, daily activities, and more.
It’s important to note that the SGB procedure is not a cure for COVID-19, but an effective way to treat the symptoms. Symptoms may return with a triggering incident. Many patients find it helpful to have the treatment repeated if they have had a positive response to the procedure before.
For more information, contact our team of specialists at Atrium Health Pain Management.
September 14, 2022