To date, roughly 77 million people in the United States alone have contracted COVID-19. And more than 25% of that population have suffered from Long COVID, which is defined as having physical and/or neurological symptoms following an acute COVID infection that persist at least one month after the initial infection. But many are experiencing symptoms far longer. Of those with Long COVID, otherwise known as “Long Haulers” or “Post COVID Syndrome,” roughly 6% experience symptoms beyond 12 weeks.
The neurological complications associated with Long COVID, even for those who had mild cases initially, are varied and far-reaching, ranging from loss of taste and smell to loss of memory and concentration (i.e brain fog.) Other symptoms of Long COVID include muscle pain, headaches, profound or exertional fatigue, joint pain, and chest pain.
One UK study analyzed before-and-after neuroimages of 785 adults – 401 who previously had COVID-19 and 384 who had not. Prior to beginning, the study removed the 15 severe cases that had required hospitalization. At the conclusion, noticeable differences were found in the group that had tested positive; namely, a loss or change in the processing of smell and taste and a 2% overall decrease in brain volume. Evidence of significant cognitive decline for the COVID group was also discovered.
Help from Stellate Ganglion Blocks
With the recent studies and increased attention on the symptoms of Long COVID, new research is being conducted on the effectiveness of various treatments, including one we are very familiar with at NW Regen — Stellate Ganglion Blocks (SGBs).
SGBs are precise ultrasound-guided injections that target a collection of nerves in the neck. While many may not have heard of this treatment, SGBs are not new to medicine. Doctors have been utilizing them successfully since the 1920s.
Among other benefits, Stellate Ganglion Blocks can regulate the autonomic nervous system and can help restore balance between the two opposing systems of the autonomic nervous system – the parasympathetic and sympathetic.
We are also finding that Stellate Ganglion Blocks can reboot the autonomic system, bringing the two opposing systems back into balance and helping the millions of people now suffering from Long COVID.
Acute illnesses like COVID-19 can cause this imbalance. We’ve known for years that certain viral illnesses can have long-lasting chronic symptoms afterwards, but we were never sure why. We are now starting to learn through some of the expansive research on Long COVID how that process works and how detrimental it can be to the autonomic nervous system. We are also finding that Stellate Ganglion Blocks can reboot the autonomic system, bringing the two opposing systems back into balance and helping the millions of people now suffering from Long COVID.
For the physicians who have used it for years, SGBs have proven to be an extremely effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, anxiety, stress-related disorders, insomnia, postpartum depression, and complex regional pain syndrome. Now, with these new studies, it’s showing promising signs of addressing many of the symptoms of Long COVID.
For example, one of the specific symptoms that SGB has been shown to treat in Long COVID patients is parosmia, or the “scrambling of smells.” Actual results have shown anything from a complete resolution of parosmia within about 15 minutes of the injection to strong, meaningful, positive changes within a couple of days. By giving the body a chance to reboot, it can start to do what it normally should – autoregulate the nervous system in a normal pattern.
SGBs has been proven effective not only for those suffering from PTSD and anxiety-related conditions, but also for the millions who are suffering with Long COVID symptoms. From our perspective, we’ve used it at NW Regen with great success. If you are suffering from Long COVID, PTSD, or anxiety, please contact us and set up a consultation to discuss this option further.
Dr. Ryan Wood is a licensed Naturopathic and Chiropractic physician focusing on interventional orthopedic and orthobiologic medicine and injection therapies as well as general musculoskeletal and non-surgical orthopedic medicine.
With almost two decades of orthopedic practice across multiple disciplines, he has the necessary experience to ensure proper diagnoses and management of complex cases.