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Ketamine and Phantom Limb Pain

Sometimes the pain remains, even after a diseased limb has been amputated.

This so-called Phantom Limb Pain, it is believed, could be the result of a variety of complex mechanisms whereby the brain (and the nerve pathways feeding to and away from it) develops an image of the body using all of the visual and tactile sensory inputs from a lifetime of experiences. These are deeply imprinted on the brain, so much so that when the limb is gone, the memory of it—and its pain—remains.

Treating a limb that doesn’t exist presents a special challenge, and there are currently no really effective treatments available for Phantom Limb Pain. However, medically-supervised Ketamine infusions could hold hope for resetting these neural mechanisms that are locking patients in to this constant, and confusing, pain. For decades, Ketamine has been used as a safe surgical anaesthetic and pain killer in military combat zones, and research and anecdotal evidence collected over the years strongly suggests it holds hope for treating a variety of psychological and pain-related conditions. One of its primary mechanisms is blocking NMDA receptors in nerve tissue, preventing the uptake of glutamate and helping to prevent the perception of pain.

In one ongoing study looking at the use of low doses of intravenous Ketamine within 30 days of amputation for treatment of chronic pain related to amputation, it is reported that 41 per cent of patients receiving the treatment showed improvement in their pain levels. And while 61 per cent of patients experienced some side effects, they were short-lived and the treatments were generally well-tolerated.[i]

Besides pain control, researchers are also looking at Ketamine for its strong potential to help treat depression; that, too, can be of benefit to people facing the distress of losing a limb. Improvement in state of mind and improvement in pain levels means that patients could feel more positive about, and engaged in, their own recovery process. Ketamine also seems to increase patients’ sensitivity to opiates, meaning that it takes a lower dose to help control pain. This holds a benefit for mitigating the negative side effects related to taking opiates for pain control.

Medically-supervised Ketamine infusion treatments are available now. If you are experiencing Phantom Limb Pain or are facing the loss of a limb and want to take preventive measures, Ketamine Infusion for Pain Relief Institute (KIPRI) is here to help. Contact us to find out how we can help you take your life back from the grip of Phantom Limb Pain.




“Ketamine analgesia [could] decrease the central sensitization purported to underlie phantom limb pain. The benefits of a Ketamine infusion are better pain control leading to greater engagement in the active recovery process. This may decrease hospital stays and decrease chronic phantom limb pain”
Dr Eugene Viscusi, Professor of Anesthesiology and Director, Acute Pain Management, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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