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Why Soldiers Are Getting Epidurals

By Madeline Holler |

epidural, ptsd

Relief for laboring women may also be key to treating PTSD.

The Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to find a way to help the thousands of soldiers who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress disorder. So far, the best therapies have included long-term counseling and prescription drugs. But for many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, no combination of the two has been able to relieve their symptoms, which can include nightmares, flashbacks and a general restlessness.

But fresh research from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego has found promising new form of relief, according to the Los Angeles Times, one that countless women would gladly endorse: an epidural.

Midway through a controlled study, researchers have found that a stellate ganglion block treatment is doing better than a placebo at relieving some symptoms of PTSD.

One Vietnam veteran who had been on the verge of suicide said that he had slept through the entire night for the first time in 40 years after just one treatment. The effect lasted three days.

The therapy, which was pioneered by Dr. Eugene Lipov, a Chicago anesthesiologist who has treated many former military personnel, works much like it does in laboring women. An injection is made into the spinal column — for the veterans, it’s closer to the neck; for laboring women, the needle is inserted more toward the middle of the spine.

For veterans, the injection is aimed at the stellate ganglion, a bundle of nerves near the base of the brain responsible for fight or flight response. The drugs in the treatment “reset” — at least temporarily — these nerves.

There’s some disagreement between Navy researchers and Lipov over which drug to use in the treatment and also the best way of locating where to place the needle.


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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Why Soldiers Are Getting Epidurals

  1. Meagan says:

    Maybe they should try a warm bath instead. My childbirth instructor says it’s just as good.

  2. Alison says:

    @meagan – I assure you these soldiers have tried everything to ease their mental anguish. The point of the epidural in this case is not pain control in the sense like labor pains but more emotional pain caused by nerves located at the base of the brain. As the article clearly states the epidural resets “the fight or flight response”.

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