Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Jay Metzger


Ketamine; Chronic pain; Chronic pain management


Chronic pain diagnoses are on the rise amongst people within the United States and thought to be an epidemic. It is estimated to affect millions of patients who have suffered trauma, injury, or complications from surgical procedures. The treatment of chronic pain, defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months, can be complicated. There are no definitive treatment options that have garnered a consensus among medical professionals. Treatment usually involves several medical specialties and pharmacological options. Reliance on the use of multiple pharmacological options can cause patients increased hospitalizations, and a reliance on opioids can potentially cause other illnesses due to the treatment side effects. The purpose of this literature review was to evaluate whether ketamine is a suitable option for the treatment of chronic pain. Articles published in the last 15 years that examined its’ use in the treatment of chronic pain were evaluated. Articles were eliminated if they involved animal studies or the involvement of pediatric (less than 18 years of age) and/or geriatric patients (over 65 years of age). The systematic review recommends ketamine as an option for patients in the treatment of chronic pain. Evidence suggests a substantial reduction in patients pain scores after the administration of low dose, subanesthetic ketamine. While side effects are common, they are usually mild, and can be easily managed by practitioners and patients. Further investigation is needed via doubleblinded placebo-based studies with a larger sample size to fully substantiate the benefits of ketamine in treating chronic pain.