April 18

Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment for Long COVID

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Have you recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19? Whether you had a mild or severe case, do you have ongoing health problems? You may have a syndrome now referred to as “long COVID”.

Many people wonder how many Americans are experiencing this long-haul covid recovery. Experts currently estimate that the number may range from 77 to 23 million.

Studies have shown successful outcomes following a stellate ganglion block (SBG). SGBs offer a minimally invasive and effective long covid treatment in Maryland. Keep reading to learn more about the stellate ganglion block and COVID.


What Is Long Covid?

When your body encounters a virus, the immune system mounts a response to fight it. Most individuals, can clear the virus and recover.

When your body detects an infection, the liver sends C-reactive proteins (CRPs). Their duty is to control the swelling. In cases without symptoms, the body may still respond without increasing your CRPs.

In symptomatic cases, the CRP and inflammatory cytokines increase dramatically. This response mirrors the level of disease severity.

These levels usually return to their normal range within a few months after recovery. If organ damage occurs, the recovery time takes longer.

Experts report that about 30 percent of symptomatic COVID-19 patients have ongoing problems. This is also true for five percent of people who never had symptoms during their COVID-19 infection.

SARS-CoV-2 causes the body to increase inflammation-causing cytokines. They’re produced as part of the immune response to heal the body. In long COVID, this response doesn’t stop after the body recovers from the acute infection.


Symptoms of Long COVID

Individuals with long COVID may have symptoms severity from mild to debilitating. These patients may experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Blood clots
  • Brain fog
  • Changes or lack of taste
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling faint due to a drop in blood pressure when moving from sitting to standing
  • Fevers
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Hair loss
  • Heart beating faster or slower than normal
  • Inability to sleep
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping

Individuals who had prolonged hospitalization and were on ventilators may have emotional issues. This can include developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Extended time in the bed contributes to muscle weakness as well.

Patients may also exhibit euthyroid sick syndrome, also called nonthyroidal illness syndrome. This means that the thyroid function tests are abnormal. Yet, the thyroid and hypo-thalamic-pituitary glands are working normally.

The World Health Organization attributes these problems to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. This impacts the release of hormones that control many body functions.


Long-Haul Covid Recovery

These patients are now often described as being in long-haul COVID recovery. Every organ in the body becomes affected in some way. So, how long does “long COVID” last?

The April 11, 2022 issue of Nature, studied 127 recovered COVID-19 patients. Among this sample, 52 percent still had symptoms at an average of 29 days since the virus started. Of the patients who had mild COVID-19 symptoms, 29.5 percent had ongoing symptoms.

This study reported that 15 percent had problems with smell. Another 14.2 percent reported taste issues, and 14.2 percent had an ongoing cough.

Potential signs of psychological distress were seen in 30.7 percent of the patients. Among the whole study group, 29.1 percent showed possible work performance impairment.

Ongoing studies are examining the long-term impact of COVID as the situation evolves.


What Is a Stellate Ganglion Block?

The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system. This controls the body’s involuntary actions such as sweating and breathing. It also triggers our “fight or flight” response when the brain detects danger.

In response, your heart beats faster and your breathing increases to bring in more oxygen. The blood vessels increase in size to carry more blood and oxygen through the body. Your focus and tension (anxiety) increase to help you respond.

Unfortunately, sometimes the body gets “stuck” in this mode. This is found in those experiencing PTSD and persistent depression and anxiety. Medical professionals are now seeing this situation with long COVID patients.

The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerves on the front of the spine where the neck and chest join. This almond-shaped group of nerves is part of the sympathetic nervous system.

It connects to the amygdala in the brain. This area controls the expression of emotions.

During a stellate ganglion block (SGB), an anesthetic is injected into this area. The goal is to decrease the stellate ganglion’s response and give time for the brain to reset.

This disruption resets the “fight or flight” mode that the body is stuck in. Thus, it’s proven beneficial in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and long COVID.


Stellate Ganglion Block for Long Covid

The SGB for Long Covid also increases the blood flow to the brain. The experts theorize that this helps resolve autonomic nervous system malfunctions. This restores the correct immune system communication and function.

It stops the rapid feedback loops that keep causing swelling and damage. The body stops “thinking” it’s still fighting the virus. Now all organ and system functions and responses can “calm down”.

The heart rate, blood pressure, CRPs, and cytokines return to normal. This helps reduce anxiety and PTSD responses. However, patients with PTSD may also benefit from therapeutic counseling.

Stopping this process lowers the patient’s risk for long COVID-related diseases. Examples include diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.


Are You Looking for a Stellate Ganglion Block Frederick Maryland?

After learning about long COVID, do you think you’re experiencing this? If so, speak to your doctor and ask about treatment with a stellate ganglion block. The Pain and Spine Specialists are board-certified in pain management.

You may go to two locations for SGB Frederick Maryland and SGB Columbia Maryland. Our teams focus on high-quality patient care and strive to meet all patient concerns.

We offer comprehensive pain management for ongoing moderate to severe pain. Our goal is to improve your function and quality of life.

Schedule an appointment today to regain a fulfilling life.


Tags

PTSD, PTSD Treatments


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