Despite the leaps and bounds medical science has made over the past several decades, there are still many mysteries. Among them is chronic pain, where doctors and researchers alike often struggle to identify causes and effective treatment options.
Over the years it is becoming increasingly apparent that conventional medicine is not as effective as a treatment option for chronic pain as it was once thought to be. The symptoms may subside or perhaps disappear entirely, only to come back again, sometimes even more severe than before.
One of the biggest challenges for health care providers to effectively treat chronic pain is to pinpoint its cause. While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert a person to possible injury and the need for treatment, chronic pain is different.
Chronic pain is perpetual as pain signals continue to fire off in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. Sometimes the origin of chronic pain is clear—serious infections, a sprained lower back, and serious injuries. There may also be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, psychogenic pain, neurogenic pain, and more. While many of these chronic pain conditions affect older adults, chronic pain does not discriminate by age and can affect a wide range of people.
Yet some people suffer from chronic pain in the absence of any past injuries, evidence of body damage, or precise neurological conditions.
Traditionally, treatment options for chronic pain include medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, brain stimulation, and in severe cases—surgery. Some physicians opt to use placebos, which could result in a decrease or elimination of pain. Chronic pain can also be treated with behavior modification, such as increased exercise as well as relaxation techniques. Despite all of these options, some people still don’t find relief from their symptoms, and turn to innovative, medication therapy to find relief from their symptoms.
Here is a breakdown of the most common chronic pain treatment options:
Milder forms of chronic pain may be relieved by over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, and additionally NSAIDs reduce inflammation. Topical pain relievers, such as creams, lotions, or sprays cal also be applied to the skin in order to relieve pain and inflammation from sore muscles and arthritis.
If OTC medications do not provide relief, a physician may prescribe stronger medications, such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, prescription NSAIDs such as Meloxicam, or a short course of prescription painkillers—the latter of which can pose the potential problem of addiction.
A limited number of steroid injections can reduce swelling and inflammation and an epidural shot is sometimes administered for lower back pain.
Physical therapy helps to relieve pain by using special techniques that improve movement and function impaired by an injury or disability.
Although resting for short periods can alleviate pain, too much rest may actually increase pain and put you at greater risk of injury when you again attempt movement. Research has shown that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long term by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Exercise may also cause a release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Some exercises are easier for certain chronic pain sufferers to perform than others, such as swimming, biking, walking, rowing, and yoga.
Ketamine has been used for pain management since the 1960s, in a way that doesn’t reduce blood pressure or lower your breathing rate—making it one of the safest treatment options available.
It works by acting against the chemical receptor, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), in the brain and spinal cord. The NMDA receptor is involved in the amplification of pain signals, opioid tolerance, and the development of central sensitization.
Ketamine also helps sedatives work which ultimately results in patients needing fewer addictive painkillers—such as morphine—especially after surgery or while caring for burns. Ketamine has been shown to work long-term, helping not only with acute pain, but also chronic pain.
American Society of Anesthesiologists President Dr. John Abenstein once touted ketamine as a miracle drug when administered properly. In July of 2018, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine released its first consensus guidelines for IV ketamine in the treatment of chronic pain.
For you to receive the life-changing benefits of ketamine therapy, you need a proper course of treatment administration. Under the wrong care, you can experience adverse effects, such as drowsiness, nausea, amnesia, confusion, agitation, and behavioral changes.
At Nova Vita Wellness Centers, we offer experienced, professional care by experts in the field of ketamine therapy—ensuring you receive all of the benefits of ketamine in a way that’s safe and provides long-lasting benefits minimizing the need for additional treatment.