It’s estimated that over 1.6 million individuals are diagnosed with cancer every single year in the United States alone. Of those 1.6 million cancer patients, around 65% of them will experience at least some level of pain and nearly 40% of them will experience moderate to severe pain.
While not everyone with cancer has chronic pain, it’s something that’s more common than you’d think and it comes in a variety of different forms. Sometimes the chronic pain is dull, while other times it’s an achy, sharp, or even burning pain. Either way, it can easily deteriorate one’s quality of life.
There are several known causes of chronic cancer pain, including actual cancer itself. Outside of that, cancer patients might experience chronic pain if the cancer damages nearby tissue, if tumors push on certain nerves in the body, or if the tumor releases pain-inducing chemicals in the body.
There are a number of ways to treat and manage refractory cancer pain and while there’s no cookie-cutter solution, most cancer patients can find relief with the right treatment plan. For some, that might mean medication, therapy, radiation, lifestyle changes, or alternative treatments like ketamine.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has long been used for chronic pain management and even depression. It was discovered in Belgium in 1962 by merging a ketone to an amine. It was used for treating injuries during World War II and was approved as an anesthetic by the FDA in 1970.
What makes intravenous ketamine such a popular anesthetic is that it doesn’t slow the patient’s heart rate or breathing rate – unlike other anesthetics. It is known to have calming, relaxing, and therapeutic effects on the brain and causes what many professionals refer to as a dissociative experience.
Although ketamine was only approved by the FDA for use as a general anesthetic, many doctors and other health professionals often prescribe it for a number of ‘off-label’ conditions – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, injuries, trauma, neuropathic pain, and cancer pain.
One of the many off-label conditions that doctors prescribe ketamine for is cancer pain and neuropathic cancer pain. It’s something that impacts millions of people every single year and while ketamine won’t help 100% of cancer patients, it will help a lot of cancer patients and that’s enough to keep us going.
During a ketamine therapy appointment, ketamine is administered into your bloodstream via an IV (intravenous) drip. It’s administered in micro-anesthetic doses and patients receive a series of infusions over a two-week period. It generally takes a little over one hour from start to finish.
A recent study that was completed between April 2018 and May 2020 concluded that nearly 75% of the 57 cancer patients experienced less chronic pain and improved function and mobility. Some of the common adverse effects were headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and somnolence.
Doctors and researchers have uncovered a number of benefits with ketamine ever since they started administering it at low doses. Ketamine acts as an NMDA-receptor antagonist that improves opioid-induced signaling by binding to pain receptors throughout the human body.
Some of the best uses for ketamine infusion therapy, in regard to cancer patients, are after cancer surgery, during radiation therapy, and during chemotherapy. Since this is when cancer pain is the most prevalent, introducing ketamine therapy to your treatment plan can help ease the pain.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent benefits of ketamine cancer pain management:
One of the biggest benefits of ketamine therapy is how quickly patients start feeling the effects – especially compared to other medications. Since it enters through the bloodstream, the body has access to it immediately. Patients also experience pain relief for weeks and even months.
While ketamine therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with painkillers and other medications, it can help decrease the need for them – especially if the medication isn’t working or you’re becoming too dependent on it. This can be life-changing for some people with cancer pain.
Another major benefit of ketamine therapy, unlike other anesthetics, is that it won’t lower your breathing rate and blood pressure. This helps reduce the risk of complications and other health concerns, making ketamine a much safer alternative than most people would think.
The final major benefit of ketamine therapy for cancer pain management is the improved quality of life and peace of mind. Cancer patients are going through a difficult, uphill battle for their life and since ketamine is commonly used in treating depression, cancer patients can benefit.
In addition to the treatment you’re receiving from health professionals, there are a number of things you can be doing at home to better manage and control cancer pain. For example, understanding the symptoms of cancer pain and knowing who to contact will go a long way.
Here are some things cancer patients can keep in mind during their fight for pain relief:
Ketamine therapy can be extremely beneficial to some cancer patients that seek pain relief. At Colorado Recovery Solutions, our team is prepared to help you find what you’re looking for with best-in-class ketamine therapy in Colorado Springs. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule your first appointment – we can’t wait to assist you with your cancer pain!