Chronic pain is defined as the experience of daily pain for over 12 weeks. What is shocking is that according to the statistics, chronic pain affects between 50-100 million adults in the U. S. yearly and over 1.5 billion people worldwide. In addition, chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U. S. today. Traditionally, patients with chronic pain are treated with opioid analgesics.
Opioids Aren’t the Answer
Initially, opioids provide pain relief for most patients. Unfortunately, these effects are short-lived. Over a relatively short period of time, the neurons involved respond by the overexpression of the opiate receptors, leading to decreased responsiveness and effectiveness to these medications. As a result of the reduced efficacy, larger doses administered more frequently are needed. Too often, patients develop medication tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses. Statistics like these are glaring evidence of a severe national crisis affecting public health and socio-economic welfare.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy: An Alternative Treatment
Ketamine has been popular for surgical use for its anesthetic properties since the 1960s. Over the last several years, Ketamine Infusions have been used to treat depression, chronic pain, and a number of other mood disorders. The administration of intravenous low-dose Ketamine is surprisingly effective in rapidly improving the symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other mental health conditions, as well as chronic pain syndromes. This effect is supported by numerous studies conducted at reputable research centers from 2000 to the present.
How Does Ketamine Work?
When Ketamine binds to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in your brain, it helps increase the amount of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate activates connections in another brain receptor, which triggers the release of molecules that allow neurons to find new pathways to communicate with each other in your brain. This process is called synaptogenesis, and it’s thought to affect your mood and thought patterns.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Chronic Pain
Ketamine infusions have been shown to rapidly provide up to a 50% decrease in patient-reported pain levels in patients that respond to these treatments. Ketamine is particularly effective for many chronic pain syndromes, particularly neuropathic pain syndromes, such as chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Ketamine is thought to improve chronic pain in a novel way by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This NMDA blockade is believed to allow the pain pathways in the brain and spine to “reset,” allowing a more normalized response to pain signals from the body’s nerves. This resetting of the pain pathways may last for weeks to months and can be maintained with occasional booster treatments, as needed.
Ketamine allows a decrease in painful symptoms as well as a decrease in the need for opioid medications. In addition, there is a clear overlay of depressive symptoms and chronic anxiety for many patients suffering from chronic pain disorders. Therefore, Ketamine’s ability to decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety can lessen the compounding effect these conditions have on the patient’s pain level.
To learn more about Ketamine Infusion Therapy, click here or call 505-639-4973 to schedule a private consultation.
Tranquility Ketamine Clinic is a leading provider of Ketamine infusion therapy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded by two experienced emergency room physicians with over 50 years combined practice administering Ketamine in the emergency department, the clinic provides effective treatments for depression, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety, stress, and burnout in comfortable private rooms at its Northeast Albuquerque location.