Every day, you wake up with aching muscles, throbbing joints and debilitating pain. Still, you rise and try to shine, going about your day. By noon, you check the calendar to see how many hours remain until you can collapse on the couch or go back to bed. You have plans with friends after work. Maybe you’ll cancel. The thing is, you skipped last month because you weren’t feeling well. Should you attend feeling miserable or bail once again?
Pain can dictate your day, and is an all too common scenario for those who grapple with chronic pain. Chronic pain is invisible, and therefore difficult for others to understand. Some people think you are complainer. Others believe you are anti-social. Nobody seems to understand, yet the constant, nagging, pain is real. Over time, chronic pain can take a serious toll on both your mental and physical health. However, an emerging new treatment is offering new hope for patients living with chronic pain.
Ketamine, an anesthetic that has been used in operating rooms since the 1960s, has been shown to greatly reduce, or eliminate, chronic pain. Innovative Ketamine was one of the first medical practices in Chicago to offer ketamine infusions, and we have treated more than 1,000 patients to date. Our team has experience using ketamine to treat severe depression, PTSD, and chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, spinal cord injury and neuropathic pain.
Researchers believe ketamine may restore the ability to make connections between brain cells, however more research is necessary. Patients who are well-suited for ketamine infusions, include those who have not had success with other pain medications or treatments, and those who plan to undergo surgery.
Innovative Ketamine follows a pain protocol that differs from how we treat depression or other mood disorders. Pain patients are administered ketamine over a three-hour time period. This is significantly longer than the infusion time for patients receiving ketamine for mood disorders. The dose of ketamine is also higher for pain patients. Some mild side-effects (nausea, dizziness, and longer disassociation) may occur due to the higher dosage, however most patients tolerate the pain protocol very well.
During a ketamine infusion, patients are comfortably seated in a leather recliner where they can relax for the duration of their appointment. Pain patients generally receive a series of three to six infusions, but your individual evaluation and progress will determine your exact care plan. An estimated 75-80 percent of patients who try ketamine are able to achieve symptom relief or improvement.
Several conditions, including cancer, CRPS, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, phantom pain, post herpetic neuralgia, sickle cell disease, and spinal injury, may result in chronic pain. Ketamine has been used to manage pain in all of these conditions. Multiple professional organizations, including the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA), the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), now support the use of ketamine in managing pain for these conditions.
An increasing body of research suggests that many chronic pain conditions are caused by unprocessed trauma. The theory is that while the patient’s symptoms and pain are very real, the root cause is not a disease state, but rather unprocessed trauma in the brain. This may be the driver behind conditions such as fibromyalgia, whereas pain associated with an illness, like rheumatoid arthritis, can be tied to a specific disease process in the body.
Ketamine allows patients to disassociate while the medicine works to restore the health of brain cells and change the way that the central nervous system processes pain. More research is needed to fully understand how ketamine works, but many patients describe feeling as if the “reset” button was hit, bringing them back to “normal” again.
This is an interesting area of study that will most likely dramatically change how the medical field treats pain in the future. We are pleased to bring ketamine infusions to pain patients in the Chicago area and hope to help more patients target the root-cause of their chronic pain so they can feel well again.