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Biology, Mind

PTSD Treatment: Injection in Neck Resets Nervous System

Would you take a needle in the neck for 30 minutes to stop reliving trauma like a loved one’s violent death? I might.

A ‘stellate ganglion block’ is an injection of anesthetic into a nerve cluster called the stellate ganglion, which connects the brain to the body

This nerve cluster is key for controlling our response to perceived danger

Scientists claim one shot to numb this cluster can ‘reset’ our nervous system

The injection has been used successfully since it was invented in Illinois in 2006

Now the US Army has invested $2m in US studies to confirm its effectiveness before endorsing it as a standard treatment method

Patients pay just under $2 for a dose of SGB. 

It takes about 30 minutes to administer the injection into the right hand side of the neck, as close to the stellate ganglion as possible. 

Some patients have reported instant relief.  

Most patients will only need one injection in their lifetime, though some have required two.

The physician injects a dose of local anesthetic into a cluster of nerves called the stellate ganglion, which connect the body to the brain.
Somehow – for reasons that remain unclear to scientists – this injection seems to reset the nervous system. 

…. scientists say it can minimize symptoms to such an extent that therapy and other drugs can work on a longer-term basis. … 

‘The rapid response and destigmatization the procedure offers may enable this technique to be beneficial for particularly difficult-to-treat patient populations, including military servicemembers and veterans,’ the researchers wrote.

It seems the US Army agrees.
RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina, Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, have all been given funds to investigate the treatment.

The study, which runs until November 2017, is slated to include about 300 active-duty servicemembers per trial. 
However, speaking to Stars And Stripes last November, one of the lead researchers from RTI said they have struggled to recruit volunteers – even after offering $115 per person to be involved. 

‘The stigma associated with PTSD certainly is a consideration,’ Kristine Rae Olmsted, a behavioral epidemiologist at RTI and co-investigator in the Pentagon-funded study, told the military publication.
She added: ‘People are a little leery about getting an injection in the neck. For some people, it’s not that big of a deal; for others, it’s quite off-putting.’ 


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event.
People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

A number of events through which people can develop PTSD include: 

  • Combat
  • Military sexual trauma
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Physical violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Serious accidents
  • Natural disasters

Approximately 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Recovery does not mean forgetting the past trauma but learning to not have bad physical and emotional reactions to memories.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Reliving the event – often with a trigger
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event 
  • Feeling bad about yourself or others
  • Alert and on the lookout for danger 

There are various methods of treatment for people with PTSD:

  • Counseling
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication – a type of antidepressan
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Mood stabilizers 


Reviewing my earlier life, if I did not witness sudden violent death at a young age, if I did not have the trauma of that fatal car crash when I was about 13 years old, seeing the mangled body of the teenage girl who was driving the car that hit ours, I might have been a completely different person, a more relaxed person, not always highly vigilant, not always preparing and focused on what could go wrong. 

If a 30 minute neck jab could reset my brain so I could sleep all night, have peace from the demons of 2016 and perhaps those of long ago, if it could let me love again some day, then it sounds like a good deal. 

Of course, I start thinking about all that could go wrong… What if the needle perforation results in a deadly brain infection? What if they hit the wrong spot and I become obsessed with paintings of igloos? 

I could volunteer to be in a placebo group, one where they put a piece of well chewed spearmint chewing gum on your neck for 30 minutes and tell you it’s going to reset your brain. If you really believe it’s going to work, it might. 

As my fiancé was fond of saying, how can you know it’s not going to work if you’ve never tried it? Given that the universe might be a simulation which we are both creating and experiencing, chewing gum on the neck might actually work now, for you too, because I just imagined it into existence. Our reality simulation might have a strange set of rules, like you can imagine things into existence, but only if your thing is not stopped by someone else’s ever having thought of it. 

Just a thought. Good night. 


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


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