Ketamine Therapy for Neuropathic Pain
Pain can be debilitating and have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life, especially if it is chronic. Pain can be felt all over the body, with the most common areas being knees, hips, spine, neck, feet, and shoulders. One type of pain that can sometimes become chronic is known as neuropathic pain. This type of pain, as well as other types of pain, can be difficult to treat and fully get control of, but ketamine therapy provides a great alternative to normal treatment methods like pain medication.
What is Neuropathic Pain?
This type of pain is often described as a burning or shooting pain, but patients can also experience numbness or tingling sensations because of it. It often develops as a result of either damage to the nervous system or direct damage to nerves throughout the body. When nerves are damaged, it can cause nerve function to be disrupted and affect the area surrounding the damaged nerve as well.
One particular type of this pain is phantom limb pain. This occurs when an individual who has lost either an arm or a leg to amputation continues to feel pain from that limb. This pain occurs because the nerves that used to carry impulses from that limb to the brain misfire and continue to send messages to the brain.
How Pain Normally Treated?
Neuropathic pain, chronic pain, and post-surgical pain are all generally treated the same way: with pain medication. The most common drugs that are prescribed are opioids, which have huge potential for abuse and addiction. This treatment method also only carries a success rate of around 30 to 40 percent, meaning that many patients still experience pain even after completing a medication program.
Pain killing medications are being prescribed more and more often by physicians, and patients are becoming more dependent on these drugs. Becoming dependent on or addicted to prescription medications, especially when they are used to manage chronic conditions, can lead to increased individual and daily drug doses, higher medical costs, and a number of health issues as well.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
This therapy is a regenerative medicine treatment that provides an alternative to normal pain medication treatment methods. This drug works as a NMDA receptor antagonist. The NMDA receptor binds to N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA), which is an excitatory transmitter. This receptor becomes overstimulated in chronic pain conditions, making pain worse.
A receptor antagonist works to prevent NMDA from binding, which allows it to act as an anesthetic. This ability makes this drug a great pain treatment option when it is used at low doses. The lower dose ensures patients will not be fully sedated, but will still experience the positive effects. The most common mode of administration is through intravenous (IV) infusion.
Since IV is the most common method, there has been lots of questions about the best total dose to use, how long to make a single treatment last, and the optimal rate of administration during that time period. It seems that the total duration of each dose is one of the most important factors that determines treatment effectiveness.
One study gave patients a dose of 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, which is a relatively high dose. This dose was administered over the course of 30 minutes. However, pain relief was only noticeable for the duration of the treatment and for about 45 minutes afterwards.
On the other hand, another study provided a constant dose of around 20 to 30 milligrams per hour for 100 hours straight. These patients experienced pain relief for up to three months following their treatment. Another study provided four hour doses each day for 10 days, and these patients also experienced longer-term pain relief.
A further study looked at the effect on phantom limb pain specifically. Treatment for one hour reduced phantom pain in all study participants. A similar study noted similar effects of limited total pain and reduced hyperalgesia, which is a diminished overall response to pain.
Because of the effectiveness of using this drug to treat various types of pain, researchers are in the process of manufacturing an oral dose and creating and designing a treatment plan that can be implanted easily, effectively, and safely at home. This will make therapy administration easier to widely distribute and will prevent patients from having to attend clinics to receive IV treatments.
The Promising Future of Pain Management
All in all, ketamine therapy provides a great regenerative treatment option for various pain conditions, including neuropathic and chronic pain. Compared to the total costs of opioids and other prescription medication options that are often used to deal with these conditions, this regenerative treatment provides an effective and more cost-efficient means of managing pain levels.