Ketamine as a Treatment for Neuropathic Pain


What is neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain occurs when the central nervous system or the peripheral nerves are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy usually begins in the longest nerves of the body, such as the feet and hands. As the condition progresses, it moves up the arms and legs.

Because the spine and nerves are intertwined and work together, issues in the spine can cause nerve pain. Lumbar herniated disc is a common form of nerve pain that occurs when a disc between the vertebrae becomes herniated and places pressure on a spinal nerve root. Once the nerves become damaged and neuropathy becomes an issue, false signals are sent from the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system to the spinal cord, and then to the brain.

What is ketamine therapy?

Ketamine is a potent anesthetic and is commonly used to induce sleep for surgeries or certain procedures. It may also provide relief for various chronic pain conditions. It blocks pain by acting as a receptor antagonist and resetting glial nerve cells. A ketamine infusion is delivered intravenously in a process that takes approximately 40 minutes. Infusions are best absorbed by the body; however, other methods of ketamine therapy are available and include intramuscular shots, nasal sprays, and lozenges. Ketamine therapy is currently being utilized as a treatment option for certain mental health conditions, including treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine therapy for neuropathic pain

Ketamine therapy is also being explored as a treatment for neuropathic pain. It has provided pain relief that extends far beyond the duration of the medication’s half-life, although why this occurs is not completely understood. Studies show that prolonged benefits of long-term ketamine therapy for neuropathic pain are probable. However, adverse outcomes, including psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects, memory issues, dizziness, and drowsiness, may occur. Oftentimes, the risks of these side effects are thought to be worth the benefit that the medication provides. Additional studies are needed to determine the long-term effects.

Additional source: Verywell Mind