Ketamine for Chronic Pain & Depression
Intravenous (IV) Ketamine is proving to be a tremendous treatment for intractable depression as well as chronic pain. About half the patients treated respond positively with results lasting up to a week in most of the responders.
It has emerged as a treatment option for a variety of chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia, small fiber neuropathy, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and psychiatric conditions including depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
There are many questions along with ongoing research about the long term dosing and effects of ketamine. From our review of current research there are some general guidelines to consider:
- Dosing is typically 0.1-0.5mg/kg/hour via IV infusion
- Longer infusions from 4 to 100 hours have shown mixed results on providing longer relief
- Repeated 1 hour infusions, e.g. 3x/wk for 6 infusions, have shown longer symptom relief
- Positive responders will know if ketamine is going to work within 4 hours
- Positive responders are likely to get long lasting relief as well
- 50-70% of patients are positive responders
- 70% of positive responders report symptom relief up to 1 week after infusion
- Ketamine has a short half life, meaning it clears from the patients system quickly
- There is much to learn about non-IV administration and chronic use of ketamine
Ketamine administration should be overseen by qualified personnel skilled in monitoring vitals and ACLS protocols. Initial infusions are 1 hour only and started at a slower infusion rate to monitor tolerance to the ketamine. If tolerating well, the infusion is increased to the standard flow rate of 0.5mg/kg/hr.
Based on the research and our clinical experience, we offer 1 to 4 hour infusions, repeated as often as 3x/week. We have medications available to treat possible side effects, such as mental agitation or high blood pressure. We monitor patients continuously during the infusions and for 30 minutes after the infusion ends.
Ketamine in the News