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Ketamine is a controversial medication for pain, but we continue to learn more about its possible uses. A team in Australia recently published work that shows that topical ketamine, that is, applied to your skin, is effective for temporary reduction in some pain in CRPS.
While the cream didn’t decrease overall, ongoing pain in patients’ affected areas, it did reduce allodynia. Allodynia is heightened sensitivity - pain which is caused by things that shouldn’t cause pain. For example, in patients with CRPS, light clothing or a breeze – which are fine for most people – can cause pain. So with ketamine, this sensitivity was decreased.
Topical ketamine can be a good option for patients with localized symptoms, and may be without any significant side effects. In the study, topical ketamine treatment showed no detectible blood levels, so little was absorbed.
The original study is “Reduction of allodynia in patients with complex regional pain syndrome: A double–blind placebo–controlled trial of topical ketamine,” by Finch et al, in Pain, Nov 2009, Vol 146, pages 18-25.
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