Ketamine is sold under the name Ketalar and is a medication most widely used for starting and maintaining anesthesia and also as an illegal party drug. Ketamine does hold great promise for treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS. Ketamine infusions have been reported to be safe and effective for the management of pain caused by CRPS in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. On a side note, Ketamine is also gaining ground in the treatment of depression. Although not approved for either use, more and more doctors are seeing it as a viable off-label solution to these conditions. Thankfully, more trial and error studies are being done and perhaps they will show some concrete evidence that it works. Outside of the United States some countries have used Ketamine successfully battling CRPS, but the US keeps tighter drug use restrictions and limits how it can be used on U.S. patients. These restrictions do not allow the drug to be used to its fullest potential. Some CRPS sufferers are traveling to countries that allow full use of the drug to get the treatments. For those of us who cannot afford that option, we have to abide by our countries drug restrictions. However, this drug IS something to get excited about. Some U.S. doctors are currently using it in concert with other treatments to treat the disease while staying within U.S. guidelines.
On the other side of the coin, many doctors disagree that ketamine should be used for CRPS and site the fact that any studies that have been done, have not confirmed its benefit using objective and controlled tests.
It needs to be said that ketamine is not a miracle drug and through my research, I have come across many individuals that have had the treatment and not all are success stories. Ketamine is not for everyone and even when administered correctly might not offer any lasting positive effects. Ketamine is generally only to be used as the last line of defense in the war against CRPS. If you feel it is the correct choice for you, speak to your doctor about it and be aware that Ketamine does, however, have a lengthy list of side effects(see below).
When used for CRPS the patient is given an infusion of the medication and it is used to ‘reboot’ or ‘reset’ your nervous system. After the reboot, it can restore normal pain processing throughout the body, thus offering pain relief for the patient. There are 3 ways to use the drug for CRPS:
- Awake version- This technique uses a low dose of Ketamine administered over a 5 day period while the patient is in the hospital.
- Out-patient version- This usually means that the patient will visit a clinic or hospital daily over a period of days, weeks or months.
- Coma version- This version gives the patient extremely high doses and puts the patient into a chemically induced coma.
Only the first 2 versions are currently allowed in the U.S. and are performed successfully across the country.
Ketamine is generally only to be used as the last line of defense in the war against CRPS. If you feel it is the correct choice for you, speak to your doctor about it and be aware that Ketamine does, however, have a lengthy list of side effects.
Incidence not known:
Bloody or cloudy urine
bluish lips or skin
chest pain or discomfort
confusion as to time, place, or person
difficult or troubled breathing
difficult, burning, or painful urination
difficulty with swallowing
dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
frequent urge to urinate
holding false beliefs that cannot be changed by fact
irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
shortness of breath
tightness in the chest
unusual excitement, nervousness, or restlessness
unusual tiredness or weakness
Minor Side Effects:
Sometimes you will have side effects that do not need medical attention. These usually go away over time as your body adjusts to the new medication. Again, always discuss side effects with your doctor, he/she may be able to help reduce or prevent them.
Incidence not known:
flushing or redness of the skin
loss of appetite
pain at the injection site
uncontrolled eye movements
unusually warm skin
Until there are solid clinical studies that prove it is effective for treatment for CRPS, it will continue to be difficult to find doctors that will offer ketamine as a treatment, but they are out there. You just have to know where to look. Click on this link for a list by state of doctors who use ketamine and I sincerely hope you find help with your condition.
Please leave comments if you have some more information to add about the use of Ketamine for the treatment of CRPS.
You are never alone!