Ketamine is a medication that has long been used in hospitals as an anesthetic — that is, a drug to relieve or prevent pain during surgery or a procedure. Over the years, it’s also been used illicitly as a recreational drug on the street and at clubs, where it often referred to as Special K, Vitamin K, or Super K.
Recently, the medical community has found other uses for this powerful pain reliever. Low-dose intravenous (IV) ketamine infusions have been found to help several conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain that don’t respond to other treatments.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for more than 12 weeks. It’s a widespread condition, with 76 million people in the United States experiencing it, and it’s the most common cause of long-term disability.
Chronic pain can affect any part of your body, or more than one part of your body and can stem from an injury or an illness, or have no detectable cause or origin. It can impair your ability to move and severely affect your quality of life.
For years, doctors have prescribed opioids to help people manage and relieve their chronic pain. They are safe when used as prescribed and when used for a short period of time. But many doctors have prescribed them for long-term use, which can lead to dependence and abuse of these powerful narcotics.
Using IV ketamine infusions instead of, or in combination with, small amounts of opioids can help people effectively manage their pain and reduce their reliance on opioids. For some, opioids don’t help alleviate their pain. In both cases, IV ketamine infusions may help.
How do IV ketamine infusions work to fight chronic pain?
In high doses, ketamine induces a sleep-like state. In low doses, administered in a medical setting, ketamine can combat pain by inhibiting a chemical receptor called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), which modulates pain in the nervous system. It also interacts with other receptors so that it combats pain on many levels.
For those who have not found relief from chronic pain from other pain medications or would like to reduce their use of opioids, IV ketamine infusions may be an effective alternative. It can help with chronic pain related to:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Idiopathic pain (or pain that has no detectable cause)
- Chronic fatigue
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
At Palo Alto Mind Body, people who are interested in and are good candidates for IV ketamine infusions to combat chronic pain start with about six infusions every two to three days. These six treatments, studies show, should have long-lasting effects of up to three months. It’s important to go to a medical professional with experience administering ketamine such as Dr. M Rameen Ghorieshi to ensure a safe and effective treatment experience.
For more information on how ketamine infusion therapy can help reduce chronic pain, call Palo Alto Center for Mind Body Health in Palo Alto, California, to schedule a consultation with Dr. M Rameen Ghorieshi, or make an appointment online.