Lidocaine and Ketamine Infusions


Opioid abuse is an epidemic in the United States. With the continued rise of opioid-overdose deaths, the healthcare community is providing alternatives to treat pain. Infusions of lidocaine and/or ketamine are a viable option to treat pain. Research shows that lidocaine and ketamine infusions are successful alternatives to opioids. Fortunately, a large percentage of patients say they have found some degree of relief with lidocaine and/or ketamine infusions.

Lidocaine is the most commonly used anesthetic for infusions. This liquid medication is inserted via a needle into a vein. Lidocaine infusions provide comfort for many who suffer from neuropathic pain and/or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Although the actual infusion is painful for some patients, acute and chronic pain conditions are often successfully treated with lidocaine infusions. However, while many patients report immediate and long-lasting pain relief; others describe the relief as slow and short-lived.

Although lidocaine infusions frequently help with chronic pain, several side effects may arise, including but not limited to, bruising, swelling or pain at the infusion site, itchy skin, redness of the skin, small red dots on the skin, and unusual warmth of the skin. Lidocaine has more anti-inflammatory properties than other anti-inflammatory medications. Lidocaine infusions are administered in a wide variety of doses depending on each patient.

Ketamine was created in 1962 and is a potent anesthetic. It blocks pain by acting as a receptor antagonist and resting glial nerve cells. Ketamine infusions have been known to put some patients with CRPS into remission. In order for the nervous system to reboot, it is best for a patient to be completely off opioids before starting ketamine infusions. Ketamine normally acts swiftly, and pain relief can sometimes last up to three months after prolonged ketamine infusions (4-14 days).

Ketamine infusions have few side effects if given at a low dose and administered properly. Side effects include, but are not limited to, memory problems, panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to minimize these side effects. Not only are ketamine infusions often successful in treating chronic pain, they have also proven to lessen suicidal tendencies. However, patients receiving ketamine infusions should be monitored closely as it is a powerful anesthetic and can possibly cause bladder and renal complications when abused. Opioid-tolerant patients may be able to receive ketamine as an alternative after surgery.

More research is being done on both lidocaine and ketamine infusions, but the prognosis is promising. As opioid addiction and abuse continue to rise, lidocaine and ketamine infusions are becoming a reasonable treatment option.

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