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Ketamine for Chronic Pain

Pain Management with Ketamine

Ketamine is known for its anesthetic and even dissociative properties. At standard doses, ketamine serves as an anesthetic for surgical procedures.

At lower doses, ketamine affects the central nervous system, influencing the patient’s perception of pain. Ketamine blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and modulates glutamate. Both of these processes are integral factors in pain signaling.

Chronic pain can be challenging to address. Many patients have turned to ketamine and found success after failing with previous medications.

While many patients have found relief with ketamine, each individual should determine whether ketamine is a viable option with the help of their healthcare team.

Effects of Chronic Pain

Doctors consider pain chronic when it continues for three months or longer. In this case, the pain persists beyond the typical healing time for injured tissue. 

In the US, more than 20% of US adults suffer from chronic pain. This type of pain affects people in a variety of ways, including:

  • Physical – aside from the obvious discomfort from pain, patients may experience limited mobility and fatigue. These symptoms restrict daily activities. 
  • Emotional – chronic pain is often associated with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It could lead to mood disorders as well.
  • Cognitive – frequent pain can impact a person’s ability to concentrate or focus for an extended period. It can also affect memory.

Low-Doses of Ketamine for Pain

Recent studies show the propensity of ketamine to help patients suffering from chronic pain. While regular doses of ketamine can cause hallucinations and dissociative effects, low doses are generally well tolerated by patients

Ketamine can be used as an alternative to opiates and can provide analgesic effects in as fast as 60 minutes. With long-term administration of ketamine, patients can experience up to 3 months of analgesic effects post-administration

Ketamine has also shown the ability to help patients with depression, which is sometimes a comorbidity to chronic pain. 

Topical Ketamine for Pain

Topical ketamine is excellent for targeted pain relief and minimal side effects. Patients use it for chronic pain, acute pain, and sports injuries. 

Its absorption rate is around 1-3%. When applied topically, patients will not experience the brain fog or dissociative effects generally associated with ketamine use. 

Topical ketamine can be applied 3-4 times per day. Typically, patients will use it every 4-6 hours. Pharmacists will combine topical ketamine with other ingredients to improve the pain relief, such as:
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Anti-inflammatory agents (ketoprofen)
  • Numbing agents (lidocaine)
  • Neuropathic agents (gabapentin/amitriptyline)

Are There Side Effects?

As mentioned, topical ketamine has limited side effects. It is well tolerated, even in high concentrations

Ketamine in a clinical setting is also well tolerated. However, some side effects include:

  • Brain fog
  • Dissociative feelings
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated blood pressure or heart rate

Patients must take intravenous or intranasal ketamine in the doctor’s office for close monitoring. Overseeing patients helps ensure side effects do not become dangerous and also helps protect against potential addiction. 

Ketamine is not physically addictive and will not cause withdrawal if discontinued. However, psychological addiction may be possible as patients may grow to desire the way it makes them feel.

Want to Know More About Ketamine?

Ketamine therapy has helped many patients suffering from chronic pain. If you would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact our pharmacists.

We are knowledgeable about compounding ketamine for pain, depression, and more.

You can also text us directly here:
Littleton: 303-707-1500
Cherry Creek: 303-333-2010

Or send us a message on social media! Follow us and get a peek at how we make our medications in the lab.