A new study suggests that ketamine may be a safe and effective way to relieve chronic pain in adolescents suffering from a variety of chronic pain conditions, according to a report published by Pain Medicine News.
The purpose of the study was to examine clinical outcomes of 63 adolescents with pain conditions including complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), fibromyalgia, and chronic headaches to determine whether ketamine infusions would effectively reduce their pain. Ketamine, a Schedule III drug, has previously been used successfully to treat chronic pain in adults. Schedule III drugs are considered to have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological abuse, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Ketamine Found Effective, but More Study Suggested
The researchers found that ketamine significantly reduced pain scores in 37 percent of the cases where an injection was given (a reduction of 20 percent or greater was considered significant). Further, patients with CRPS/RSD experienced the greatest reduction, as compared with those suffering from other chronic pain syndromes. While no adverse events were reported and the ketamine injections were well tolerated by the study participants, the study authors said that more research on complex pain syndromes, particularly CRPS/RSD in adolescents, is needed.
CRPS/RSD is a disease of the autonomic nervous system, specifically the sympathetic nervous system. The McGill Pain Index ranks CRPS as the most painful form of chronic pain existing today. The condition often develops following some sort of trauma that damages the peripheral nervous system. The symptoms of CRPS/RSD include prolonged or excessive pain in the affected area and changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling of the extremities, including the arms, legs, hands, and feet.