Ketamine Infusions for Chronic Pain Management: How They Work

Feb 13, 2024
Ketamine Infusions for Chronic Pain Management: How They Work
: Chronic pain is a common problem and one that can be difficult to manage. Ketamine infusions offer relief for people when other treatments have failed. Here, learn how ketamine helps manage pain so you can decide if it’s right for you.

More than 50 million Americans experience chronic pain every year, with symptoms lasting three months or longer. For about 17 million people, symptoms are so severe, they interfere with daily activities.

The mechanisms behind chronic pain are often complex, which means managing symptoms can be difficult. While some types of pain respond well to medication, physical therapy, and similar therapies, many people find these treatments are ineffective in providing the long-term relief they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

At Revival Infusion Madison in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Sarah Wilczewski, CRNA, APNP offers an alternative: ketamine infusion therapy to help manage chronic pain symptoms. Here’s how it could help you.

Ketamine for chronic pain

Ketamine has a long, established history as an anesthetic, but in recent years, researchers have begun exploring how this medication works to treat an array of medical issues, ranging from treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to stubborn chronic pain.

Administered through an IV directly to your bloodstream, ketamine is very fast-acting, providing lasting relief without the potential side effects that can come with many pain medications, especially when taken in increasing doses or for long periods of time.

Science of ketamine

While researchers are still learning about the pharmacokinetics of ketamine in terms of chronic pain management, they believe the medication works in several key ways to fight recurring or persistent pain. 

First, ketamine works by blocking nerve receptors responsible for pain signals. By preventing signals from traveling to and from your brain, ketamine decreases pain sensations and severity.

Ketamine also alters production of a chemical called glutamate, a neurotransmitter that lessens pain reactions and sensations while regulating anxiety and depression commonly associated with untreated chronic pain.

At the same time, ketamine supports the growth and development of new connections between nerves, optimizing positive nerve signaling and helping “undo” abnormal signaling associated with some pain syndromes, like fibromyalgia and chronic regional pain syndrome. Finally, ketamine helps decrease inflammatory responses associated with many types of chronic pain.

All the benefits make ketamine a potentially effective therapy for people suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy pain, chronic regional pain syndrome, cancer-related pain, and other types of chronic pain.

What to expect during your ketamine treatment

Prior to administering ketamine, we perform an evaluation of your pain symptoms, along with a medical history and other evaluations to make sure ketamine is a good choice for you. In general, ketamine isn’t recommended for pregnant women or for women who are breastfeeding. It may also not be a good choice for people with specific medical issues.

Ketamine is administered through an IV while you sit back and relax. Your dose is carefully calibrated for your specific needs, and you’ll be monitored throughout your therapy session, so you can feel confident and secure.

During treatment, you may feel lightheaded or dizzy. Some patients report mild hallucinations or dissociative sensations that clear up as soon as the infusion ends. 

Sessions take an hour or less, and after a brief period of monitoring following your session, you’ll be ready to go home. Because ketamine can make you feel groggy, you’ll need to have someone available to drive you home afterward, too. You can expect to feel the initial benefits of therapy within a day or so, and treatments can be repeated as needed to keep pain under control.

Help for your chronic pain symptoms

Chronic pain can alter your life, making it hard to take pleasure in even the simplest activities. If previous pain treatments have failed to provide you with long-lasting, meaningful symptom relief, ketamine could be the solution you’ve been looking for. 

To learn more about ketamine treatments at our Fitchburg, Wisconsin, practice, call 608-405-6824 or book an appointment online with the team at Revival Infusion Madison today.