Ketamine infusion therapy is becoming a more common treatment for chronic pain, as it is seen as a more comfortable alternative to spinal stimulators. Ketamine has been shown to be effective in treating conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and neuropathic pain, with few side effects.
If you are considering ketamine infusion therapy for your chronic pain condition, here is what you need to know.
- What is Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)?
- How Does Spinal Cord Therapy Work?
- What Are Some Disadvantages of Spinal Stimulators?
- What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
- How Ketamine Relieves Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- What Are the Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Chronic pain affects millions of people in the United States. Chronic pain is defined as discomfort that continues for months or even years. Back and neck issues are two of the most prevalent causes of chronic pain, accounting for more than 26 million adults in the United States.
Studies show that chronic pain has a significant detrimental impact on one's quality of life. Pain makes it more difficult to work, sleep, move freely, socialize with friends and family, and participate in hobbies and sports. 28% of individuals with low back discomfort report that the agony restricts their activities.
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)?
Spinal cord stimulation is a pain management technique that has been used for over 25 years. This method uses the nervous system to block the sensation or perception of chronic, intractable pain. SCS does not just mask the pain, but rather "tricks" the brain into thinking that there is no injury.
A SCS system consists of implanted electrodes that are strategically placed near the spinal cord to deliver electrical impulses. This relieves pain by blocking pain signals before they reach your brain. A device called a pulse generator also needs to be implanted beneath the skin. The generator, which is about the size of a beeper, sends electrical impulses to the electrodes, which are connected by wires that run down the lower back and into the spinal canal. A battery pack is also implanted in the upper buttock region or abdomen.
A SCS system can be used on any body part that experiences chronic pain. The most common areas that are treated include the lower back, leg, or arm.
How Does Spinal Cord Therapy Work?
Spinal cord stimulation relieves symptoms in approximately 70% of patients. This number varies slightly depending on where the electrodes are placed within their spinal canal and how many are used. The electrode leads work by blocking the pain messages that are sent to the patient's brain.
The sensation created by SCS is different from natural pain relief. The area of the patient's body where the stimulator is placed is where they may feel a tingling or slight tickle, but no real pain. Patients will not feel any sort of "high" or euphoria, and they will be fully aware of their surroundings. When the SCS system is turned on, there should be no numbness or loss of sensation in the treated area.
Most people can tolerate SCS without any problems, some may experience pain relief right away while others may have to wait several months for an adequate trial period. The battery life lasts about five to seven years and the majority of people will need a replacement system after that time.
What Are Some Disadvantages of Spinal Stimulators?
While the majority of people who receive a spinal cord stimulator will experience significant pain relief, some may not. In addition, there are several disadvantages and risks associated with this type of treatment:
1. The cost may be prohibitive for some patients (over $30,000).
2. Spinal cord stimulators can only be used for chronic, intractable pain.
3. The installation process is costly and requires a major surgery that must be performed under general anesthesia.
4. There are also risks associated with the procedure itself including nerve damage, infection, spinal fluid leakage, or implant failure.
5. Spinal cord stimulators may become less effective over time (up to 50% of patients).
6. The battery pack has to be replaced every five to seven years, and the device must also be re-implanted, so there is a chance for repeat surgeries.
7. Patients may experience pain or a tingling sensation at the implant site.
8. There are side effects associated with spinal cord stimulators including pain at the implant site, infection, numbness, backache, and/or fatigue.
9. There are barriers your insurance company may put in place to prevent patients from receiving one of these devices.
Ketamine, A Comfortable Alternative - "Less Invasive, Same Outcome"
Ketamine infusion therapy may offer a more comfortable alternative to spinal cord stimulation, as well as other illnesses such as Crohn's disease, chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, ALS, and depression.
In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ketamine was just as effective as implanted injections in relieving chronic pain. Researchers concluded that the findings "suggest that ketamine does not simply mask the sensation of pain but rather tricks the brain into thinking that there is no injury."
What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine infusion therapy uses a low dose of ketamine over a period of several hours to block the sensation or perception of chronic, intractable pain. Ketamine works by blocking certain pain receptors in the brain and resetting some nerve cells in your spine and brain.
In addition, ketamine IV infusion therapy is different from general anesthesia because patients are sedated during the process but remain awake and alert throughout the treatment session. Most people say they feel no more than a little sleepy during the entire procedure. While patients are under, a nurse will monitor their vital signs, and they will be able to respond to him or her.
Unlike a spinal cord stimulator, ketamine infusion therapy is not considered a permanent treatment for pain because it does not have the same long-lasting effects. In addition, this treatment requires no surgery and can be performed in a doctor's office as an outpatient procedure. This is why ketamine infusion therapy is often very cost-effective.
Find out if your insurance company covers Ketamine Treatments.
Ketamine for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is defined as any type of persistent pain that lasts longer than three to six months, or beyond the time of normal tissue healing. More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the Institute of Medicine. CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) is a very painful condition that may develop when an injury or trauma results in damage to the central nervous system.
The damaged nerves do not send correct signals resulting in abnormal responses, even long after the initial trauma has passed. Ketamine is being used in medical practice to treat complex regional pain syndrome.
Before administering ketamine infusion therapy, patients should be evaluated by a doctor who specializes in chronic pain management. During this visit, they will ask patients about any previous surgeries they have had, the location of their pain, and what makes it feel better or worse. Patients may also be asked whether they have tried medications to treat their chronic pain, and if so which ones worked well for them and why?
Using this information, the doctor will decide whether ketamine infusion therapy is an appropriate treatment option. Patients may also be asked to complete a questionnaire that asks them about how much their pain interferes with daily activities such as work, sleep, exercise, socializing, and family activities. This information is used to determine whether they are a good candidate for this treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine IV infusion therapy is a safe and effective option for people who experience chronic pain and have tried other treatments without success. While ketamine infusion therapy is not appropriate for everyone, it has several advantages over spinal cord stimulators:
1. It does not require an implanted device, so there are no surgical risks or implant costs.
2. There is no risk of complications associated with the use of anesthesia during a ketamine infusion session.
3. Patients do not have to stay overnight in a hospital or clinic.
4. There are no risks associated with the use of general anesthesia for this treatment, so it is safe even if patients have certain medical conditions that make anesthesia risky (such as heart disease, respiratory problems such as asthma, liver, or kidney disease).
5. It is relatively painless and easy for patients.
6. The effects of ketamine infusion therapy can be reversed quickly if needed during the treatment session by giving patients an IV injection of a medication called midazolam (Versed).
7. There are very few side effects associated with ketamine infusion therapy, unlike other treatments for chronic pain (including medications or surgery) that can have serious complications and/or negative interactions with other medical conditions.
Looking for a less invasive alternative for chronic pain?
We offer cutting-edge Ketamine protocols that have helped thousands of patients get back on their feet and achieve optimal health. We would be happy to discuss our treatment options and help you decide which one is right for you.
What Are Ketamine Infusions? - https://www.advancedspineandpain.com/blog/what-are-ketamine-infusions
The Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy - https://cuttingedgepain.com/the-benefits-of-ketamine-infusion-therapy/
Spinal cord stimulation - https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-stim.htm
Disadvantages and Risks of Spinal Cord Stimulation - https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/disadvantages-and-risks-spinal-cord-stimulation
We are an Evidence-Based Center of Excellence and the leading provider of Ketamine Infusions, IV Infusions and Ketamine Consulting Services for Ketamine Clinics and IV Therapy Clinics.
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