From Denny: Since we have such a long sustained war going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's understandable that our soldiers are experiencing difficulty dealing with long-term stress. There is a new - and controversial - experimental treatment developed that doctors think may give hope to war veterans.
What they are proposing is to numb the nerves in the neck. OK, for me, any time you start messing around with the delicate area of the neck and spine, it makes me wonder if that's such a bright idea.
Part of the usual treatment for PTSD is an anti-anxiety pill that can make a patient drowsy yet left still feeling nervous. Many patients tire of taking pills for months on end, looking at a lifetime of medications. This new treatment, an injection to the neck, apparently calms a patient within five minutes. The injection is a local anesthetic to a bundle of nerves in the neck. Apparently, this pain block has actually been used since 1925.
PTSD generally is treated with pharmaceuticals addressing flashbacks, anger, anxiety, and constant sleep disturbances. This new study is from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It was published in the journal Pain Practice, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), discussing a mere ten minute procedure with excellent results. Doctors caution more research is necessary to make sure how safe it is before making this procedure available for widespread use.
Right now the treatments available such as therapy and antidepressants require months before getting any relief from symptoms. The known side effects are impotence, weight gain, and sedation. The attraction of this new procedure is that it works within 30 minutes and does not appear to have any side effects. It also has a long lasting effect of from six to 18 months.
People wonder how a shot to the neck can affect psychological symptoms. Apparently, when a traumatic event occurs, there is new nerve growth factor that increases dramatically, to the point that nerves in the brain can sprout like flowers.
When this nerve growth factor spikes, this sprouting effect increases adrenaline production in the brain, causing patients to feel anxious. The beauty of the local anesthetic applied to the nerve cluster in the neck, returns the nerve growth factor back to normal levels and so the symptoms subside or disappear.
When doctors did brain scans of PTSD patients' trauma centers they noticed those areas lit up when the patient was shown violent pictures. After receiving the nerve blocking treatment, those parts of the brain no longer responded to the visual trigger.
This new treatment is welcome news for a short fix, sure to provide immediate relief to returning war veterans as they transition to civilian life. What does concern me is how this treatment could be abused. How? It has the possibility of being used on professional soldiers to keep them in the field beyond what is a healthy level of stress by masking what is going on internally. Time will tell how this all plays out, hopefully for the best.
Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder With a Jab to the Neck: (ABC) New Research Suggests Numbed Nerves Could Cure Anxiety and Flashbacks in Veterans
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