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Topical Ketamine 10% for Neuropathic Pain in Spinal Cord Injury Patients: An Open-Label Trial

Author(s):  Rabi Joseph, Minori Joshua, Abad Hasan, Lee Ray, Gittler Michelle

Issue:  Nov/Dec 2016 - Volume 20, Number 6
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Abstract:  Topical ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, has been shown to be effective in certain neuropathic pain syndromes. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of topical ketamine in spinal cord injury patients with neuropathic pain. An open label trial enrolled five subjects at an outpatient rehabilitation hospital with traumatic spinal cord injuries who had neuropathic pain at or below the level of injury. Subjects applied topical ketamine 10% three times a day for a two-week duration. Subjects recorded their numerical pain score—ranging from 0 to 10, with 0 representing “no pain, 5 representing “moderate pain,” and 10 being described as “worst possible pain”—in a journal at the time of application of topical ketamine and one hour after application. Using a numerical pain scale allows for something as subjective as pain to be given an objective quantification. Subjects also recorded any occurrence of adverse events and level of satisfaction. All five subjects had a decrease in their numerical pain scale by the end of two weeks, ranging from 14% to 63%. The duration ranged from one hour in one subject to the next application in other subjects. There were no adverse effects. Overall, four out of the five subjects stated they were satisfied. Topical ketamine 10% is an effective neuropathic pain medicine in patients with spinal cord injuries; however, further studies need to be done with a placebo and larger sample size.

Related Keywords: Joseph Rabi, MD, Joshua Minori, DO, Hasan Abad, MS4, Ray Lee, MD, Michelle Gittler, MD, ketamine, topical preparations, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury, N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, NMDA blocker, pain journal, patient satisfaction, study design, analgesia, analgesic, pain relief


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