Treating chronic pain
people who respond to treatment can have up to a 50% reduction in pain lasting on average three months
Chronic pain can be a severe and debilitating syndrome. It is often difficult to treat, and can be associated with comorbid depression and the development of substance use disorders. Chronic pain overlaps with depression in 30-60% of people. Many treatments such as opiates and anti-inflammatory drugs also have significant side effects. Ketamine has been found to be effective in many types of chronic pain, particularly those types called neuropathic pain.
Clinical experience with ketamine infusions for neuropathic pain suggests that people who do respond to treatment can have a 50% reduction in pain that lasts about three months on the average, followed by intermittent booster infusions as required. In some types of chronic pain, the brain cells become sensitized to pain signals causing severe discomfort even long after the physical cause of the pain is gone. Ketamine acts to stop chronic pain by blocking the NMDA receptor, cutting off the transmission of pain signals from the body to the brain. This is analogous to the negative feedback loop of a musical amplifier causing an intolerable sound, where ketamine infusions turn the amplifier off, allowing it to reset and subsequently stop interpreting the peripheral input as pain. Ketamine also significantly improves depression which sometimes accompanies chronic pain, thereby additionally improving the lives of those suffering from these disorders