According to data from the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly 40 million Americans and 1 billion people globally suffer from migraine headaches, making this neurological disorder the third most prevalent illness worldwide. Not only are migraines very common, but they can be hard to treat and harder still to prevent.
Migraine headaches are associated with a number of debilitating symptoms, including:
- Intense head pain, sometimes only on one side
- Changes in vision
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound (and sometimes smells)
About a quarter of migraine sufferers have chronic headaches, which means they have headaches that occur at least 15 days every month. Overuse of traditional medications is a primary reason why occasional migraines become chronic. In recent years, ketamine infusion therapy has been recognized as an alternative to traditional migraine pain medicines, especially for people with chronic and refractory migraines that don’t respond well to traditional treatment strategies.
Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic is a leading provider of ketamine infusion therapies for patients with frequent and hard-to-treat migraines. Ethan Philpott, MD, and his team provide customized care to help relieve the symptoms and reduce the frequency of headaches. Here’s how infusion therapy might help you.
The basics of ketamine therapy
Although ketamine’s initial use was as an anesthetic agent for surgery, in the past couple of decades, the drug has gained a lot of traction in treating an array of problems associated with nerve signaling in the brain. Most notably, ketamine has shown considerable promise in treating chronic depression in patients who haven’t found relief through antidepressant medications.
It’s also been used to successfully treat chronic pain conditions, including migraines. In fact, a recent case series published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that ketamine treatment was associated with improvement in pain severity in all patients included in the series.
A larger study from 2017 found that three-quarters of patients experienced improvement in the intensity of their symptoms in just 3-7 treatments. Other research shows that ketamine therapy can result in a dramatic improvement in quality of life for patients with debilitating, hard-to-treat migraines.
How it works
While researchers aren’t clear on exactly how ketamine works to treat refractory migraines, they do know that the drug helps block some of the pain signals between the nerve receptors. Ketamine can provide short-term relief for people with hard-to-treat migraines, and it has the potential to provide long-term relief in many patients.
At Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic, ketamine can be received intravenously or by way of a nasal spray. Because the therapy is relatively new, it’s not available at every medical office. In fact, ketamine therapies are provided only at specific practices that have the skills and experience in using the therapy safely and effectively.
Unlike many pain medications used to treat migraines and chronic pain conditions, ketamine doesn’t interact with the opiate receptors on nerves. Instead, it targets other receptors called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. As a result, it can be safely used in people in whom opioid medications can’t be used, including people with addiction concerns.
If you’d like to find out more about ketamine infusion therapy for migraine headaches, book an appointment online or over the phone with Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic today.