This study aimed to develop a method that objectively measures the clinical benefits of ketamine infusions to treat complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), thus making it possible, for the first time, to determine the optimal dosing of ketamine and duration of treatment to treat CRPS.
All patients were diagnosed with hyperalgesia associated with CRPS. Patients underwent an outpatient, 4-day, escalating dose ketamine infusion. Hyperalgesia was measured using pain thresholds. Clinical outcome was determined without knowledge of the patient’s pain thresholds throughout treatment.
We found a correlation between pain thresholds and the intensity of pain reported by the patient at various sites of the body. We found that clinical outcomes correlated with improvement in pain thresholds. There was a plateau in pain thresholds between days 3 and 4 for the lower extremities. There was no plateau in pain thresholds observed for the upper extremities.
Our findings suggest that four days of treatment are sufficient for the treatment of CRPS of the lower extremities. For the upper extremities, more than four days may be required. Our study is the first to utilize quantitative sensory testing to direct the treatment of a chronic pain disorder.