America continues to battle it’s opioid addiction epidemic. Between the years 2000-2014, overdose deaths due to opiates doubled. Misuse and over prescribing of opiates for pain has led to an increase in dependency and a decrease in quality of life for those with chronic pain. In America, it is difficult to find a person or family who has not been affected by opioid addiction in some way. Due to the public health crisis posed by opioid abuse and addiction, the regulatory bodies on both the Federal and state level have changed the way doctors may prescribe opiates. This change has forced doctors to rely more heavily on non-opiate analgesics as a first line of therapy against pain. Unfortunately, many chronic pain sufferers have been unable to find an adequate level of pain relief with these alternative medications.
The difficult calculation both providers and patients must wrestle with is what level of pain relief is worth the risk of almost certain addiction. Opiates play a crucial role in managing severe, acute pain from injuries and surgeries, but were never intended for long term use. Opiates cause physical changes in the certain cells of the brain, all but guaranteeing the development of physical and mental dependency over time. However, without an adequate solution for chronic pain relief, chronic stress will lead to depression and mental health deterioration.
There is an upside to this new awareness by providers and patients, however. Physicians are beginning to view chronic pain as the body-wide condition it actually is. The pain symptom can often be relieved or lessened by a more whole body approach of physical therapy, mental health therapy as well as pharmaceutical intervention. This path is harder than simply masking pain with a pill, but much more effective in maintaining quality of life long term.
Some states have also embraced medical cannabis as a viable alternative to opiates in chronic pain management. Cannabis relieves stress, improves sleep and reduces pain levels, a much more holistic approach than opiates alone, with a very low risk of addiction.
Ketamine infusions can be an effective part of the overall treatment plan for chronic pain patients. Ketamine has shown the potential to be an effective option for particularly neuropathic pain, giving hope to doctors and chronic pain patients alike. Ketamine has been known for its anesthetic properties since it was introduced in the 1960s, but has recently been studied in a variety of chronic conditions. In conditions such as CRPS, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, migraine headaches, and other neuralgic pain, ketamine can improve pain levels for up to 11 months in some cases.
Ketamine infusions are administered in a clinical setting under medical supervision. Pain patients typically receive a series of 3 two hour infusions over 7-10 days, followed by maintenance infusions as needed. Intravenous infusion is far and away the most effective route of administration, and although some ketamine clinics will provide patients with a take-home prescription for ketamine, it is much less effective when administered orally, intranasally, or sublingually.
There is no doubt that relieving chronic pain is vitally important in maintaining quality of life as we age. Hopefully with the attention being given to the topic of pain management and addiction, we will see insurance providers expand coverage plans and allow patients to explore more holistic pain management options—both pharmacological and therapeutic. Opiates have their place in the medical world, but should be used sparingly and with full awareness of the risk to benefit ratio of long term use. It is important that patients are given every option to improve pain outcomes.
Contact New Horizon Clinics
If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, ketamine infusions could be the solution you’ve been looking for. Our Tallahassee area ketamine clinic treats patients suffering from a wide array of chronic pain conditions—everything from CRPS, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, migraine headaches, nerve pain and more. Request a free consultation and speak with a member of our clinical team about your needs, and learn if you are candidate for ketamine infusions.