Low dose Ketamine infusions as a therapy for the treatment of depression is slowly starting to become a more mainstream concept. There have been several recent reports in the media profiling the type of patient successes that we here at Thrive Wellness Groups have seen regularly. Less well known is Ketamine’s effectiveness in treating several pain syndromes, including migraine headaches.
How can ketamine help with migraines?
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 12% of the population suffer from migraine headaches. This debilitating condition affects men, women, and children, but disproportionately affects women with 85% of chronic migraine sufferers being female. In 2015, the medical cost of treating chronic migraine headaches was approximately $5.4 billion.
Migraine headaches will often be characterized by throbbing, recurrent, moderate to severe head pain. However, a whole constellation of symptoms can be generated by migraines, including nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell, and tingling of extremities and the face. Onset can be swift, and duration can be 4 – 72 hours.
There are some hospital in-patient services and hospital emergency rooms that have employed Ketamine infusions for several years to treat intractable migraine headaches. Recently, Dr. Eric Schwenk, the Director of Orthopedic Anesthesia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, and colleagues completed a retrospective study to ascertain the effectiveness of Ketamine in this population. All sixty-one patients studied received daily low dose Ketamine infusions for three to seven consecutive days. Almost 75 percent of the patients experienced an improvement in their migraine intensity. On a scale of 0 – 10, the average migraine headache pain rating at admission was 7.5, compared to 3.4 on discharge. The average infusion was 5.1 consecutive days. The infusion day with the lowest average pain rating was day 4.
This study’s focus was on short-term relief. The author is encouraged by the potential for Ketamine infusions to provide long-term relief.