Ketamine is an anesthetic approved for both human and animal use in medical settings since 1970. Current investigations are looking at its use for chronic pain. 2 new studies are promising:
The first study is “Ketamine produces effective and long-term pain relief in patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1” which appears in Pain, October 2009. This study of 60 subjects with severe pain used an average of 4.2 days of IV Ketamine infusion. Results showed significant decreases in pain at the end of the infusions, but no sustained decrease by 12 weeks after treatment.
This study confirms previous studies which also showed that Ketamine effectively reduces pain, but most patients need “booster” sessions to maintain pain reduction. Unfortunately, the title of this paper is a bit misleading, as long term pain relief did not occur.
The second study is “Effects of low-dose intransal (S)-ketamine in patients with neuropathic pain” which appears in the European Journal of Pain, in press, 2009. This study looked at the use of Ketamine administered by nose in a small sample of 16 subjects. Pain was reduced for about 2–3 hours, with the best pain relief (30 – 40% decrease in pain) achieved at 1 hour.
These 2 studies are part of a growing body of literature supporting the use of Ketamine. It’s a treatment that I’m warming to, but still would recommend only after more conservative measures have been tried.
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