Intractable chronic (long-term) pain can make it impossible to carry out your normal daily routine. You may find you’re unable to attempt personal care, get through a normal day at the office, or participate in social or recreational activities you once enjoyed.
At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Diana Ghelber, MD, often treats residents of our Fort Worth communities who are dealing with the physical and emotional effects of intractable chronic pain. She finds that ketamine therapy can relieve even stubborn, intractable pain and help lift the depression that’s often linked to this debilitating condition.
Understanding the characteristics of intractable chronic pain
Most individuals take a step-by-step approach to relieving pain. You may, for instance, start with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen to relieve your pain.
When that doesn’t work, your next step might be a visit to your doctor who may try other pain relief measures. For instance, your physician may recommend muscle relaxants for back spasms, steroid injections for an aging knee, or physical therapy for a chronically painful shoulder.
If your chronic pain does not respond to any of these traditional treatments, physicians identify it as “intractable” chronic pain. Dealing with chronic pain that’s at least limited by medication and other therapies is difficult enough. But dealing with chronic pain that has no end in sight takes “coping” to a whole new level. Ketamine therapy is often a highly effective -- even breakthrough -- treatment for relief from your intractable pain.
Ketamine’s long-standing connection to pain relief
Ketamine has been used since the 1960s as general anesthesia for patients undergoing surgery. It became popular on the battlefield as well because it works very quickly when used for pain relief. Ketamine also has a relatively low-risk side effect profile when administered by a qualified health care provider.
More recently, ketamine is gaining in popularity as an effective medication therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Here too it acts very quickly, often lifting depressive symptoms within hours or less. It can take weeks to months to experience noticeable improvement in your symptoms with traditional antidepressants, if ever.
Given its history, it seems to make perfect sense that physicians would consider ketamine therapy as a solution for treating intractable chronic pain. And it’s working. Also, because depression and chronic pain often coexist, Dr. Ghelber is very pleased to offer her patients an effective, fast-acting therapy that can address both issues at once.
Qualified supervision required
To help ensure its effectiveness, ketamine therapy requires careful supervision by a qualified physician like Dr. Ghelber who can accurately regulate the strength of the dose and the timing of your ketamine therapy.
Most patients require a series of ketamine sessions initially, spread over several days or weeks, to obtain long-lasting results. After the initial series of treatments delivered via intravenous (IV) infusion, you may need periodic “maintenance” infusions to maintain the effects.
The strength of your ketamine dose is also vital. The goal, after all, is not to sedate you but to relieve your chronic physical or emotional pain so that you can return to daily activities. Relief from pain and depression can also motivate you to participate in counseling, physical therapy, and other helpful treatments.
Schedule a visit with Dr. Ghelber at the Institute of Advanced Psychiatry to find out whether ketamine therapy may be your treatment solution for intractable chronic pain. Give the office a call or request an appointment online.