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Guidelines for Ketamine as Pain Reliever

New research has shown ketamine can be an effective option for pain relief, and it could even be used as an alternative to opiates. Ketamine has been in the headlines a lot recently because studies have found it’s good for PTSD, depression and suicidal ideation treatment. The drug is also being utilized more in inpatient and outpatient settings to manage different types of pain, read on to find out more about the newest breakthrough for a drug once only associated with the club scene.

ketamine baltimore city md

Ketamine vs. Opiates

Ketamine has captured headlines, particularly international headlines as it was used to rescue 12 Thai soccer players who were trapped in a flooded cave. A driving force behind the growing effort to use it as a pain reliever replacement for addictive opiates, because it could save lives and prevent more problems in the country with opiate addiction.

What Are the Experts Saying?

The author of the guidelines is a man named Steven Cohen, MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Cohen stated, “The goal of this document is to provide a framework for doctors, for institutions and for payers to use on ketamine for acute pain, who should get it and who should not get it.”

The guidelines established by Dr. Cohen were published online on June 7th, 2018 in Regional and Pain Medicine.

ketamine treatment center baltimore mdWhat Do the Guidelines Say?

Developing guidelines for using ketamine for acute pain was a joint effort by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia ad Pain Medicine and the American Academy of Pain Medicine, which approved the document, as did the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Committees on Pain Medicine Standards and Practice Parameters.

The guidelines say IV ketamine should be considered for patients having painful surgery and it may be considered for opiate-addicted or opiate-tolerant people who are having surgery. Ketamine should also be considered for opiate-dependent or opiate-tolerant patients who have acute or chronic sickle cells pain.

The use of low dose ketamine is very popular and there are definitely benefits to using the drug for acute pain, especially for patients who do not have other options available.


Researchers believe in spite of ketamine’s drawbacks; the drug remains a powerful tool for acute pain practitioner’s. More research is needed to determine if using ketamine for pain management would alleviate the opiate epidemic. Medical researchers need to better understand the long-term risks of ketamine in patients who receive serial treatment for frequent acute pain episodes.

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