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Ketamine Infusion In The Treatment Of Chronic Pain

Ketamine Infusion In The Treatment Of Chronic Pain

The relentless nature of chronic pain not only causes physical discomfort but also takes a heavy emotional toll, impacting quality of life and daily functioning. Despite the widespread prevalence of chronic pain, traditional medications frequently prove inadequate in delivering sustained and satisfactory relief for those grappling with severe and persistent pain conditions. This shortfall underscores the pressing need for more effective and enduring solutions to alleviate the immense suffering endured by individuals burdened by chronic pain. 

In recent years, the spotlight has shifted towards intravenous ketamine infusion therapy as a beacon of hope amidst the challenging landscape of chronic pain management. This innovative approach has garnered attention for its potential to provide relief in a spectrum of debilitating pain conditions, ranging from neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and phantom limb pain. While initial studies have showcased promising outcomes, the journey toward establishing ketamine’s efficacy as a mainstream treatment option has encountered hurdles.

Conflicting findings have emerged, stemming from a multitude of factors such as variations in patient demographics, divergent endpoints utilized for measuring pain relief, and inconsistencies in study sizes. These complexities have contributed to a landscape where interpretations of ketamine’s effectiveness fluctuate, leaving clinicians and researchers alike grappling with uncertainty.

Despite these challenges, the exploration of intravenous ketamine infusion therapy continues unabated, driven by the urgent need to address the unmet needs of individuals battling chronic pain. As efforts persist to refine study methodologies, standardize outcome measures, and delineate patient subgroups most likely to benefit, the hope remains that ketamine will emerge as a steadfast ally in the fight against chronic pain, offering relief and restoring quality of life to those in need.

Overview of the Study 

This study aims to conduct a contemporary meta-analysis to provide updated insights into the application of IV ketamine infusion therapy for persistent pain. By synthesizing findings from a diverse array of research studies conducted in recent years, this meta-analysis seeks to illuminate the current landscape surrounding the application of ketamine infusion therapy in addressing persistent pain conditions.

With a keen focus on examining the latest evidence, this study aims to provide clinicians, researchers, and healthcare stakeholders with up-to-date information regarding the efficacy, safety, and potential benefits of IV ketamine infusion therapy in the realm of pain management. By employing rigorous analytical techniques and incorporating a wide-ranging body of literature, this meta-analysis endeavors to offer nuanced insights and valuable perspectives that can inform clinical decision-making and guide future research directions in this burgeoning field.


Following the PRISMA guidelines, a systematic investigation was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of IV ketamine infusion compared to various control substances (placebo, midazolam, gabapentin, hydromorphone, and pregabalin) in individuals suffering from chronic pain. 

The study identified randomized trials and nonrandomized cohorts that compared IV ketamine to control interventions in patients diagnosed with chronic pain. Full-text articles available in English were included for review, while certain criteria were applied to ensure the reliability and validity of the analysis. 

Studies were excluded if they did not incorporate a control group. A control group comprises participants who do not receive the intervention under investigation, providing a basis for comparison to ascertain the intervention’s effectiveness. Excluding studies lacking a control group helps establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the intervention and observed outcomes. Additionally, case series or case reports were excluded from the analysis.

The search encompassed databases like Medline, Cochrane, and Embase. Two independent researchers identified randomized double-blind and non-randomized trials that compared IV Ketamine infusions with controls. 

Data analysis was performed using Review Manager 5.4.1, focusing primarily on pain scores. Secondary outcomes, including quality of sleep, and side effects such as nausea, hallucinations, and sedation, were also examined. A total of sixteen studies involving 1080 patients were included in the analysis.


The IV ketamine treatment resulted in a significant reduction in pain scores (Mean difference -1.05; 95% CI -1.72, -0.39; p=0.002). However, there was no significant difference observed in the quality of sleep between studies (Mean difference 0.00; 95% CI -0.12, 0.12; p=1.00). Additionally, the occurrences of nausea (risk ratio 1.42; 95% CI 0.84, 2.39; p=0.19), hallucinations (risk ratio 1.08; 95% CI 0.67, 1.76; p=0.75), and sedation (risk ratio 1.05; 95% CI 0.24, 4.54; p=0.95) did not significantly differ among the studies.

Final Thoughts 

The meta-analysis suggests that IV ketamine infusion is effective and safe for patients with chronic pain. The analysis included 16 studies with a total of 1080 patients, showing statistically significant pain relief with ketamine administration compared to controls.

The results align with prior research indicating ketamine’s efficacy in managing chronic pain. Notably, the dosing protocols for ketamine varied widely among the studies, ranging from subanesthetic to anesthetic doses over varying infusion durations. A subgroup analysis suggested that ketamine dosages between 0.1 mg/kg and 0.49 mg/kg were effective, while higher doses were not as effective. 

The variation in ketamine dosing scales employed across studies underscores the dynamic nature of research aimed at refining dosing strategies within the realm of pain management. This diversity in dosing protocols highlights the ongoing quest to fine-tune the administration of ketamine to achieve maximal therapeutic benefits while minimizing potential adverse effects. By utilizing different dosing scales, researchers endeavor to explore a spectrum of dosage ranges and infusion regimens, aiming to pinpoint the most efficacious and tolerable dosing parameters for diverse patient populations and pain conditions.

Despite the inherent heterogeneity in dosing protocols, the steadfast observation of ketamine’s analgesic efficacy across a multitude of administration strategies serves to bolster the accumulating evidence supporting its role in chronic pain management. This consistency in outcomes, despite varying dosing methodologies, underscores the robustness of ketamine’s analgesic properties and its potential as a versatile therapeutic option for individuals afflicted with chronic pain.

Moreover, the convergence of findings across diverse administration protocols lends credence to the notion that ketamine’s analgesic effects transcend specific dosing regimens, suggesting a broader mechanism of action underlying its pain-relieving properties. This resilience in efficacy underscores ketamine’s potential as a cornerstone therapy in the armamentarium against chronic pain, offering hope to patients and clinicians alike grappling with the complexities of pain management.

Recent meta-analyses have also shown ketamine’s effectiveness in reducing neuropathic pain, although long-term data are limited. Overall, the consistent findings across different chronic pain populations support ketamine’s role as an adjunctive therapy for pain management.

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