What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an anesthetic agent approved by the FDA. Treatment with subanesthetic doses (doses below the amount necessary for anesthesia) may help alleviate chronic pain, chronic migraine, and fibromyalgia. Ketamine may also be helpful in treating depression and anxiety.
How Does Ketamine Work?
Ketamine works to block the chemical receptor N-methyl-D-aspartate or NMDA. The receptor modulates pain in the nervous system. The analgesic properties of ketamine can bring great relief when other treatments are unsuccessful.
If your pain continues for an extended period of time, the brain begins to perceive it as more severe than it is. In some cases, non-painful stimuli can create a pain response. This reaction is called the “windup.” By blocking the receptors, ketamine can prevent windup.
Ketamine Can Be Effective in Treating:
- Neuropathic Pain
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Nerve and Back Pain
- Cancer Pain Syndrome
Preparing for Treatment
- Patients must have a valid ID for treatment.
- We require a complete list of medications before the first visit.
- Patients must have someone take them home following treatment; driving is not allowed that day.
- Patients should continue to take all medications unless asked not to.
What Are the Side Effects?
Most people tolerate ketamine well. Potential side effects are blurred vision, drowsiness, bad dreams, perceptual disturbances, confusion, elevated blood pressure, euphoria, nausea, dizziness, and increased libido. Side effects typically dissipate 20 minutes after the infusion. Patients will remain in our office until we know they are stable.
Reasons to Avoid Ketamine
People with certain conditions may not react well to ketamine. These conditions include pregnancy, breastfeeding, uncontrolled high blood pressure, unstable heart disease, increased intracranial or intraocular pressure, interstitial cystitis, active substance abuse, current manic phase of bipolar disorder, active psychotic (hallucinations or delusions) symptoms, difficult IV access, and history of aneurysm.
Ketamine is not compatible with MAOI medications. The effectiveness of ketamine may decrease with patients taking high doses of Lamictal, opiate pain medications, and benzodiazepines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I stop any of my other prescriptions?
There are medications that you cannot take with ketamine. Please contact us with any questions about drug interactions.
Does it cost more than other treatments?
Ketamine does cost more than many oral prescriptions. When you think about how chronic pain affects your ability to work, ketamine may actually be more cost-effective.
What is the risk for addiction?
Studies and clinical experience show there is a minimal risk for addiction or abuse when very low and infrequent doses are administered in a medical setting.