Ketamine for Chronic Pain

In general, chronic pain is defined as pain lasting three months or longer. This may not sound like a long time, but twelve weeks or more of even moderate pain can have a significant impact on mental health. Low-dose ketamine is an up-and-coming treatment that may help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain that has been resistant to traditional therapies. 

In the past, chronic pain management was approached in a somewhat trial-and-error fashion utilizing a combination of antidepressants, opioids, and anticonvulsants. However, efficacy of this form of treatment remains fairly low, with only about 30-40% of patients reporting moderate to good relief of pain. 

Ketamine has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of drug-resistant depression and acute suicidal ideation. However, recent studies support its use for a wide variety of mental health disorders, including those related to chronic pain. 

In sub-anesthetic doses, ketamine has been shown especially to have a positive effect on neuropathic pain conditions, such as chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and post-herpetic neuralgia. Animal studies have confirmed ketamine’s efficacy in treating neuropathic pain disorders, in part, due to a unique ability to inhibit microglial activation and neuronal inflammation. 

As the primary immune cells of the central nervous system, microglial cells play a crucial role in infection and inflammation in the brain. Suppressing this inflammation response may be one reason why ketamine is able to alleviate nerve pain so successfully. 

Is Ketamine Safe?

When administered by a qualified healthcare professional in an appropriate dose, and in a closely monitored setting, ketamine is an extremely safe and effective means of treating various pain and mood disorders. 

This is not to say ketamine therapy is without risk. All drugs have side effects, or the potential for what are called “adverse events.” Ketamine’s most common adverse events have to do with its psychotropic qualities, which induce a dissociative or “loopy” feeling in patients. In a recent study, patients described feelings of floating, visual distortions, and difficulty speaking. However, these symptoms lasted no more than four hours and, at a 3-month follow up appointment, no long-term side effects were found. 

Furthermore, ketamine has a far lower potential for abuse than many traditional pain medications, especially opioids. The drug itself may carry the risk of psychological addiction, but it is not physically addictive. That is to say, stopping it suddenly will not cause withdrawals or other unpleasant side effects. The method of administration also significantly reduces the risk of abuse, since it is given under closely monitored conditions and much less frequently than other medications. 

Pain Conditions Treated by Ketamine

The use of non-recreational psychedelics, including ketamine, is a fairly recent phenomenon. Studies are extremely promising for their use in treating many health conditions. While more data is needed to definitively support its use for certain types of conditions, ketamine may provide relief to the following types of treatment-resistant chronic pain:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Cancer pain
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme Disease
  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (Shingles)
  • Migraines
  • Other types of nerve pain

Ketamine Clinic in Destin Florida

If you are an adult (18+) and have been suffering with chronic pain that is not managed by traditional therapies, ketamine may be right for you. At the Crane Center, we understand just how disabling long-term pain can be. For appropriate candidates, we offer intranasal and intramuscular versions of ketamine to treat an array of chronic pain diagnoses. We will carefully monitor your response and pain levels while you relax in one of our quiet exam rooms. Call our office or go online today to schedule your appointment.