brain chronic pain

Ketamine Infusion Therapy; An Alternative to Opioids for Chronic Pain

Experiencing daily pain for over 12 weeks is categorized by the medical community as Chronic Pain. Chronic pain affects a staggering 50-100 million adults in the U. S. yearly and over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Another disappointing statistic, chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U. S. today. Traditionally, opioid analgesics are the first choice when treating patients with chronic pain.

Opioids and Addiction

Often, in the beginning, opioids provide pain relief for most patients. Unfortunately, these effects don’t last. Over a relatively short period of time, the neurons involved respond to the overexpression of the opiate receptors, leading to decreased effectiveness of these medications. As a result of the reduced efficacy, larger doses administered more frequently are needed. As a result, patients develop medication tolerance, dependence, and addiction.


Statistics on opioid abuse show a severe national crisis affecting public health and socio-economic welfare. 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. 

Ketamine Infusion Therapy: An Alternative Treatment

Ketamine has been the choice for surgical use for its anesthetic properties for many decades. In recent years, Ketamine Infusions have been used to treat depression, chronic pain, and many 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. Numerous studies have been conducted at reputable research centers from 2000 to the present, supporting its use for these conditions.

The Science of Ketamine

When Ketamine binds to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in your brain, it helps increase the amount of a glutamate neurotransmitter. Glutamate activates connections in another brain receptor, which triggers the release of molecules that allow neurons to find new pathways with which to communicate 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

It has been shown that Ketamine infusions 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 an evident 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 of 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.