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How does Ketamine Work to Ease Chronic Back Pain?

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
Reading Time: 4 minutes
How does Ketamine Work to Ease Chronic Pain

According to research, almost 20.4 percent of the U.S. population is suffering from chronic back pain. If you are one of those unfortunate people, you are probably looking for a permanent solution. It is incredibly challenging to manage chronic pain all your life; it profoundly affects your quality of life and interrupts your daily routine.

You may have heard about Ketamine Infusions to treat chronic pains. This treatment method is prevalent these days and is considered effective and long-lasting for OCD and chronic pain patients who do not respond well to medications.

If you want complete information on this subject, keep reading. We will do our best to help you understand Ketamine therapy entirely and if it can help you with your chronic pain.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic in humans and animals for the past 40 years. Studies suggest that if administered in our body with a carefully calculated dose, it can also act as a tremendously short-acting analgesic.

Its onset is quicker than other pain-relieving medicines, and there are no adverse effects. Also, it does not cause any dependence or addiction in patients like other medications such as opioids. So, there is no potential for drug abuse.

Other than being used as an anesthetic and analgesic, it is also used to treat mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What are the symptoms of Chronic Back Pain?

Backache is one of the most common health problems in the United States. Its severity depends on multiple factors, and so do its causes. It can occur at any age due to some accident, lifting weight, a sudden fall, or degenerative changes in old age. It can also develop over time due to some inner inflammatory disorder.

There are different kinds of chronic back pains depending on their symptoms which include:

  •          Shooting pain while bending and lifting
  •      Excruciating pain while trying to change sides at night
  •           Flaring up pain that comes and goes, (usually lasts 24 to 48 hours).
  •      Stiffened back and legs in the morning
  •      Pain radiating from the pelvic area, traveling to the buttocks and legs

You must visit your doctor if the symptoms do not go away after a few days or if the medication does not help you get better.

How to Diagnose Chronic Back Pain?

When you talk to a physician about your pain, he will examine your body and ask you to sit, stand, walk, or lie down to check how you do it and assess the origin of the pain.

He will also ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 to understand the severity of the pain and how much it affects your daily routine. If needed, he may also advise you on one of the few lab tests to determine the root cause of your pain, such as:

X-ray: The x-ray image clarifies if there is a broken bone or arthritis.

MRI or CT-SCAN: The images taken by these methods would give information if there is a dislocated disk or some other issue related to muscles, tissues, ligaments, and blood vessels.

EMG (electromyography): If a problem is related to herniated disks, then this test can help measure the pressure on nerves due to those herniated disks.

Blood tests: Blood tests will confirm if there is any inflammation in your body or a possible infection causing the constant pain.

Ketamine Infusion for Chronic Back Pain | How does it work?

While most of us are only aware of ketamine as an anesthetic, some studies provide substantial evidence about the role of ketamine as an analgesic medicine.

If used in a low dose, it works as a pain killer and relieves chronic back pain, even if it is not possible with other anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids. It also works faster than oral medications, and patients start to feel better during the treatment and in the following weeks.

Some patients also do not find any need to continue with additional medications, and this is why it is considered the best therapeutic method for chronic pain.

Ketamine therapy is like going one step ahead to create a comfortable life for yourself.

What is the mechanism?

When ketamine enters your bloodstream, it interacts with your brain. The purpose of injecting this drug into your system is to treat chronic back pain at the cellular level.

Chronic pains are sometimes the result of damaged nerve connections between the brain and spinal cord. Ketamine works on those neuron deficiencies and restores synaptic connections in the brain.

It also works as a potent pain receptor blocker and blocks N methyl D aspartate receptor, which becomes highly sensitive in chronic pain.

It is used in shallow doses to treat pains compared to its dose as an anesthetic. Sometimes, low dose of ketamine is combined with some other analgesics depending on the nature and intensity of your pain to avoid Ketamine side effects.

Effect of ketamine on different chronic pains:

Ketamine infusion therapy is considered more effective for certain types of chronic back pains rather than all. These chronic pains are the following:

  •          Cancer Related Backache
  •       Traumatic Spinal pain (due to injuries)
  •       Neuropathic Pains
  •          Fibromyalgia
  •          Complex regional pain syndrome


Patients unable to get relief from standard pain relief treatment methods often feel much better after the first session of ketamine treatment.

Also, the pain relief span with ketamine therapy is considerably longer than other treatment methods and varies from patient to patient. The range pain relief span is from a few weeks to more than 3 months. Therefore, it is becoming more popular with time.

How do you know if it is right for you?

There are two significant reasons to consider opting for ketamine therapy.

  •          If all other treatment methods are providing you with no pain relief.
  •          If there is an upcoming surgery for the patient.


But you must talk with your physician and clear all your doubts about this treatment.bac