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Narrative Review: Low-Dose Ketamine for Pain Management.

Pain is the leading cause of medical consultations and occurs in 50-70% of emergency department visits. To date, several drugs have been used to manage pain. The clinical use of ketamine began in the 1960s and it immediately emerged as a manageable and safe drug for sedation and anesthesia. The analgesic properties of this drug were first reported shortly after its use; however, its psychomimetic effects have limited its use in emergency departments. Owing to the misuse and abuse of opioids in some countries worldwide, ketamine has become a versatile tool for sedation and analgesia. In this narrative review, ketamine's role as an analgesic is discussed, with both known and new applications in various contexts (acute, chronic, and neuropathic pain), along with its strengths and weaknesses, especially in terms of psychomimetic, cardiovascular, and hepatic effects. Moreover, new scientific evidence has been reviewed on the use of additional drugs with ketamine, such as magnesium infusion for improving analgesia and clonidine for treating psychomimetic symptoms. Finally, this narrative review was refined by the experience of the Pain Group of the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine (SIMEU) in treating acute and chronic pain with acute manifestations in Italian Emergency Departments.

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