IV Ketamine is often used to treat patients with chronic pain. Still, no studies have determined the long-term impact of ketamine infusions. However, the therapy is a new approach to managing chronic pain, and the early results are very promising. Still, there is much more studying and testing before it can be effectively considered a long-term therapy.
If you have pain that lasts longer than three months, ketamine therapy is a possible treatment for chronic pain. Currently, ketamine therapy isn’t a first-line treatment, but it may be an option when other pain management strategies don’t work.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine has been used for decades, and the FDA approved it for medical use in 1970. Ketamine acts on N-methyl-D aspartate (NMDA receptors) in our brains. These receptors operate in areas that act like switches. A neurotransmitter called glutamate switches the NMDA receptor to the on position, and glutamate helps you feel more alert and awake. However, Ketamine is an antagonist of the NMDA receptor. It keeps things like glutamate from activating the NMDA receptor. When Ketamine touches the receptor, you feel sleepy. This interaction with glutamate makes Ketamine a good option as an anesthetic.
How Can Ketamine Therapy Help with Pain?
It has been found that in higher doses, Ketamine works on opioid receptors. Activating these receptors will reduce pain sensations. Ketamine also unblocks some sodium and potassium channels, similar to how local anesthetics work. Ketamine also helps increase the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA) in the brain. GABA is the opposite of glutamate. GABA causes the brain to experience relaxation and low sensations.
Ketamine is still being examined and studied, but it has been found that Ketamine can be recommended if other treatments like opioids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are not working. Ketamine therapy is most commonly used for:
- Neuropathic pain. This neuropathic pain is the pain that affects the nerves that cause shooting, tingling, or burning pain.
- Complex regional pain syndrome CRPS, type I: This pain generally occurs after surgery or injury and causes chronic pain.
Note that ketamine therapy for chronic pain doesn’t work for everyone. Therefore, finding the right people who experience unique pain and respond to ketamine therapy is integral to further studies.
Ketamine for chronic pain is usually given via an intravenous line. The treatment begins with a low dose, which may increase over time. Ketamine infusion dosages are usually .05 to 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight over an hour.
A study in 2019 found that IV ketamine provides significant pain relief for participants with chronic pain. The effects lasted for almost two weeks.
- In 2021, studies found Ketamine helped reduce opioid-induced hyperalgesia. This problem occurs when opioids have the opposite effect, making you more pain sensitive.
- A 2022 study found ketamine administration effectively relieves chronic pain in high dosages. Participants after one year found those who experienced mild pain or fibromyalgia pain experienced greater and longer-lasting pain relief than those with severe pain.
Risks of Ketamine Treatment
At lower doses, ketamine therapy is safe and well tolerated. However, Ketamine can have a few side effects, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased secretions that could lead to choking.
If you have a heart condition, talk to your care team before considering ketamine therapy. Ketamine can also interact with a wide range of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. For example, if you drink grapefruit juice, you may have an adverse reaction to Ketamine. Talk with a healthcare professional about interaction with any medications you take before
considering ketamine therapy.
Ketamine therapy is an emerging treatment for chronic pain. If you would like to try Ketamine, talk with your care team. Mention other treatments you have tried, medication you take, and any underlying health conditions. If you decide to pursue ketamine therapy, work with a qualified treatment center that has board-certified physicians on staff.
Utah Stem Cells is a clinic that will help you with ketamine treatment. Content them at 801-999-4860. Visit their website at https://utahstemcells.com for more information and a consultation for pain relief using Ketamine IV therapy.