A Different Option for Pain Control: Ketamine Infusions

Ketamine, first approved in the 1960s, is a medication that is most commonly used as a quick-acting anesthetic in surgical and emergent settings under the supervision of medical and veterinary professionals. Based on research, ketamine has also been utilized over the last decade in medical settings as an alternative treatment for individuals that have proven resistant to conventional options for chronic pain, as well as depressive disorders. At Carolinas Pain Center, we are utilizing ketamine infusions to help reduce pain levels and improve functionality for the appropriate candidates.

What Do We Treat with Ketamine?

Though not a first-line option, ketamine infusions can be used to treat a variety of conditions that have not responded fully to conventional treatment. Ketamine infusions are generally used in conjunction with a patient’s current treatment regimen, though it can be utilized individually as well. Oftentimes, patients are able to reduce the amount of oral medications that they take.

What To Expect

Patients can expect to receive the infusion in an outpatient setting monitored face-to-face by one of our highly-trained medical providers. After their IV is placed and the patient is comfortable, the ketamine will be administered over a period of 1.5-2 hours, with a recovery period lasting approximately 30 minutes. Our staff monitors the patient’s vital signs, response to treatment, for any potential negative side effects that may need treatment and general safety. Most patients report a relaxing and pleasant experience. Some patients see results immediately, and some require a few infusions to see optimal results.

Ketamine infusions are typically administered in an initial series of several infusions over a short-period of time, with the potential for as-needed or maintenance treatments thereafter. The exact number and frequency of infusions varies based on an individual’s response to treatment and is tailored for meaningful outcomes, patient safety and feasibility.

How Does Ketamine Work?

While the exact mechanism of ketamine for chronic pain is not fully understood, it is believed to reduce pain by altering brain pathways and cell signaling to produce a rapid-acting pain relief. Its primary cell function involves blocking the N-methyl-D-asparate receptor. Ketamine infusions for chronic pain are utilized at doses lower than that would be required for general anesthesia and it is considered off-label utilization. It is not considered a narcotic medication, and has been shown to reduce opioid tolerance in certain individuals.

Pricing and Coverage

Unfortunately, ketamine infusions are not covered by insurance.

Bell RF, Kalso EA. Ketamine for pain management. Pain Rep. 2018 Aug 9;3(5):e674. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000674. PMID: 30534625; PMCID: PMC6181464.

Contact Carolinas Pain Center

If you’ve been suffering from a nagging pain in one or both of your shoulders, then you’re in need of shoulder pain treatment to relieve the discomfort and address the issue. At Carolinas Pain Center, we offer a plethora of advanced treatments proven to reduce pain resulting from strain, injury, and degeneration while restoring shoulder function.

Carolinas Pain Center offers the kind of multidisciplinary, individualized approach necessary for shoulder pain treatment. If you are suffering from shoulder pain that will not go away with at-home treatment, make an appointment today to start on the path to shoulder pain relief