Opioids are undoubtedly a powerful pain medication, however, they tend to not provide sufficient relief for chronic pain sufferers. The opioid crisis has also led many to feel conflicted about prescribing these drugs to patients. In the quest for an alternative treatment, doctors have found hope in an old drug, ketamine, for pain management.
Chronic pain that lasts months, or even years, affects millions of people across the United States. Two of the most common areas pain is experienced are in the back and neck, which afflict more than 26 million adults. Pain can take a dramatic toll on a person’s quality of life—to the point where it makes it difficult to work, sleep, and move about comfortably. It also can take away from time with friends and family and make it challenging to enjoy favorite hobbies and activities.
The use of ketamine for pain is not a farfetched concept, as ketamine has been used as a general anesthetic for over five decades. Ketamine infusions work by interacting with chemical receptors in the body called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). These receptors are part of the central nervous system and signal the sensation of pain. By blocking these receptors with the use of low-dose ketamine infusions, the pain signals are interrupted allowing for the alteration or elimination of chronic pain.
Patients report having great success with ketamine infusions because the pain relief lasts much longer than it does with other types of treatments they have tried with the added bonus of low risk for addiction. With ketamine infusions, depending on the type of pain, patients can feel better for weeks, and even months.
The popularity of ketamine for pain is growing immensely. Not only due to how effective it is proving to be, but because it is a safe alternative to the use of opioids. Ketamine is used in a postoperative setting to reduce the use of opioids and also serves as a way to wean those suffering opioid addiction off these drugs. In infusion centers, ketamine’s powerful pain relief is used to treat chronic pain, neuropathic conditions, and refractory migraine headaches.
To learn more about how to manage chronic pain without the use of opioids, reach out to our clinic.