Ketamine is a pain relief and anesthetic medication that has been safely used in the United States since 1970. While it is an “old drug” with a long history, ketamine infusion therapy has become recognized as a safe and effective option for treating and managing chronic pain conditions over the past decade. Ketamine is unique to other drugs in that it has little to no depressive effects on the circulatory and respiratory system. With as many as 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, patient outcomes through ketamine infusion therapy are exciting. Fast-acting and with few side effects, ketamine has become vital to patients and the medical community – a true mainstay in treating and managing chronic pain conditions.
To determine if you may be a suitable candidate for ketamine infusion therapy, take our free three-question assessment
What Is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine is administered intravenously (through an IV). Duration and prescribed dosage during therapy sessions can vary from patient to patient, but most sessions last one to four hours and occur in a clinical office setting. While Ketamine can be administered in other ways, such as orally, intranasally (through the nostril), or intramuscular (injection through a muscle), studies have shown that administration intravenously is the most effective method for treatment. The dosage can be delivered and monitored with precision and tritiated (changed) accordingly throughout the session through an IV.
Conditions Treated With Ketamine
Many conditions can be treated and improved by Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Often, mood and pain disorders are combined, meaning that many patients simultaneously experience the presence of both a mood and pain disorder. This is part of why this drug is effective for patients suffering from these chronic conditions – it can address both types of disorders. To the right are some of the conditions that are most commonly treated with ketamine.
- Suicidal Ideation
- Bipolar Depression
- Anxiety and Depression
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD)
What to Expect Before, During & After Treatment
Before your infusion, you will be given a comprehensive physical and neurological exam. Our physicians can determine the appropriate dosage, duration, and course to best support your healing by utilizing years of experience working with patients with mood and pain disorders. Your treatments may be modified after each session depending on your improvement.
Once a protocol is determined, your ketamine infusions will be delivered in a safe and comfortable environment. Your IV will be established, and the treatment will begin with ketamine being infused into your bloodstream. Throughout the infusion, your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation are monitored under the supervision of a physician or anesthetist. They will titrate the medication based on your needs.
Once the duration of the treatment is complete, the IV will be shut off. Any sensations you may have felt during the infusion will quickly wear off within 15-20 minutes, and the medication will be entirely out of your system within a few hours. You will be observed by a medical professional for about 45 minutes after the treatment is complete, at which time a loved one can take you home.
What Does It Feel Like?
You will start to feel the effects of the infusion within just a few minutes. Your mind will remain active, and you will not lose consciousness or awareness, but you will feel extremely relaxed. This sensation is unusual for some, but it is often described as calming or soothing. During your infusion, you may choose to reflect on past or present experiences that are causing you emotional or physical pain. This deep state of relaxation can provide you with time to safely explore these experiences with no emotional suffering. While this can be a useful healing tool, some patients may choose to enjoy the medication’s relaxing qualities. Some patients do experience a dissociative effect during their infusion, which is similar to an out-of-body experience. This effect does not happen for every patient, and while many patients find this to be a pleasant experience, opening your eyes can reduce this sensation if it is not desired.
Ketamine is not a hallucinogen, but as a dissociative medication, some patients also perceive light or other senses in an enhanced way. Again, this does not happen for all patients, and your physician or anesthetist can help tailor your experience throughout the session. If at any time you experience undesired side effects, such as nausea or anxiety, low doses of other medications can be added to your IV to increase your comfort and allow you to complete the duration of your treatment safely. Should it be necessary to discontinue your infusion, the IV can be shut off, and all sensations will quickly dissipate. Some patients feel better during and immediately after their infusion. Others experience improvement in their mood or pain symptoms within a few days. Marked improvement can continue with subsequent treatments, and additional sessions are often required for pronounced and lasting benefits.
Cost of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
- Pain conditions: 4-hr infusion session, $1,250
- Mood disorders: 40-min infusion session, $550
While reimbursement is not guaranteed, should you choose to submit a claim for reimbursement to your insurance carrier, we can provide you with the proper forms. Talk to our physicians today to learn more and discover if you are a candidate for ketamine infusion therapy.
- Proven safe and effective. Ketamine is so safe that anesthesiologists widely use it to put patients to sleep during many surgical procedures. Doses administered during surgery are typically up to four times higher than the doses necessary for effective infusion therapy.
- Little to no impact on life-giving systems. Ketamine is different from other anesthetics. It has little to no impact on circulatory or respiratory systems, making it one of the safest drugs to administer for pain-relieving effects.
- Fast-acting and minimally invasive. The effects of ketamine are felt after just a few minutes or intravenous delivery, and many patients experience marked improvements within days. Alternatively, common antidepressants take four to six weeks before they become effective.
- No negative long-term side effects. Acute effects experienced during the infusion dissipate within 15-20 minutes, and the medicine completely leaves your system within a few hours. There are no side-effects that affect patients after the medicine has left your system.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR CANDIDATE ELIGIBILITY
Only a licensed physician can determine if ketamine infusion therapy is recommended for treating chronic pain conditions. However, if you answer yes to all of the following questions, this treatment option may be right for you.
- Are you currently struggling with any of the following conditions: chronic pain, depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or bipolar depression?
- Are you under the care of a physician, therapist, psychologist, licensed social worker, or psychiatrist regarding your condition?
- You currently do not have one of the following health conditions: schizophrenia, schizo-affective, significant and untreated substance use disorder, or pregnancy?