In an exciting development, Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine published the first set of guidelines for the use of ketamine for treating pain—a framework for doctors and institutions, who should get it, and who should not. Ketamine infusions have emerged as a leading option for the treatment of both chronic and acute pain. Some chronic pain patients report a reduction in pain symptoms for up to six months post-infusion. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as an essential medicine, primarily for its analgesic qualities.
Ketamine has been around since the 60s. A popular battlefield anesthetic used liberally in the Vietnam war, ketamine has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, emerging as a powerful treatment for depression, anxiety, psychiatric disorders, and various chronic pain conditions. It's renaissance in the realm of pain management is controversial, though—according to the National Pain Report and clinicians around the country—it should not be overlooked.
Ketamine has made quite a few headlines as of late. Originally introduced as an emergency room and battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s, ketamine has recently been heralded by emergency physicians and chronic pain specialists for its ability to treat chronic pain, and by mental healthcare practitioners for its ability to change the lives of patients suffering from even the most severe, treatment-resistant cases of depression.
Ketamine has earned its clout as one of the most effective treatments for depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD currently available on the market. However, ketamine is also effective in pain management, specifically for the treatment of chronic pain conditions, such as CRPS, migraine headaches and as a fibromyalgia treatment. Pain is the #1 cause of physical disability in the world, but modern pain management options – including opiates and other medications, physical therapy, meditation, acupuncture and other complimentary and alternative techniques – tend to treat pain symptoms as they continue to occur, rather than stopping the pain from reoccurring altogether.