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Ketamine Infusions for Chronic Pain Management: How It Works

Apr 01, 2023
It can be hard to manage a chronic pain condition that’s complex, widespread, or rooted in a mental health disorder like depression. Here’s how ketamine infusion therapy provides relief — even when other treatments have failed.

If you live with a chronic pain condition, you know just how overwhelming and disruptive it can be — ongoing pain can interfere with your daily routine, sap your energy, dampen your mood, and make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. 

Here at Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our seasoned team takes a comprehensive, multimodal approach to interventional pain management that aims to help you attain relief right away and keep you pain-free for as long as possible.

In some cases, ketamine infusion therapy may be the best pain management solution. Read on to learn how ketamine works to alleviate pain — even when other treatments have failed. 

Ketamine history and applications

Ketamine is an FDA-approved injectable anesthetic (pain block) and analgesia (pain relief) medication that’s been widely used in operating rooms, on the battlefield, and in veterinary clinics since the 1970s. 

Its benefits and value to society were formally cemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1985, when ketamine was first included on the world’s list of essential medicines, where it has remained ever since. 

Today, it remains one of the most widely used short-acting anesthetics in the world, as well as one of the most exciting discoveries in the battle against treatment-resistant depression. 

How ketamine eases chronic pain

What many people don’t know is that the same mechanisms which make ketamine such a useful anesthetic and antidepressant also make it an effective treatment for many chronic pain problems. 

When injected, ketamine quickly binds to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in your brain, blocking the activity of a key neurotransmitter called glutamate

Overactive NMDA receptors and abnormally high glutamate levels have been linked to both long-term depression and chronic inflammation; they’re also associated with increased pain sensations and the presence of chronic pain conditions like neuropathy and fibromyalgia

At higher doses, ketamine is a “dissociative anesthetic” that can make you feel detached from your pain as well as your environment. But at a low, controlled dose, ketamine relieves pain, eases depression and anxiety symptoms, and induces feelings of calm and relaxation. 

Because ketamine works directly on NMDA receptors and glutamate, its effects are rapid and substantial — most people experience significant relief within a few short hours. Ketamine also has a significant positive effect on the regulation of inflammation, providing an effective pathway to sustained pain relief. 

Is ketamine therapy right for you?

Ketamine infusion therapy can be a beneficial component of care for chronic pain that’s complex, widespread, or brain-based (i.e., a side effect of depression). It can also be an ideal option for pain that hasn’t responded well to other interventions. 

At Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics, we offer ketamine therapy in the context of functional medicine, a holistic approach to wellness that aims to address the root cause and contributing factors of your pain condition to help you attain long-term relief. 

Along with helpful lifestyle changes and supportive treatment modalities like massage therapy and physical therapy, we may recommend ketamine to help ease:

  • Peripheral neuropathy (pain in your hands or feet) 
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (sharp facial pain)
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Fibromyalgia pain, including related migraines
  • Causalgia (burning pain sensation in a limb)
  • Cancer pain (from the disease or its treatment)
  • Treatment-resistant depression and discomfort
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms

If you have any type of chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, ketamine infusion therapy may be a viable option. Even when other pain management solutions have failed, many people coping with relentless pain find effective relief with ketamine. 

Find out how ketamine can benefit you 

If you’re ready to regain the upper hand over chronic pain and return to a better quality of life, we can help. To find out how ketamine infusion therapy can help you reclaim your health and vitality, call our office today, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule an appointment any time.