Living with fibromyalgia is tough. The constant pain, fatigue, and brain fog can take over your life. Though there have been major advancements in treatments for fibromyalgia, many people continue to experience inadequate relief from their pain.
At Interventional Pain Associates in Austin, Texas, our pain management specialist, Dr. Sarosh Saleemi, has made it her mission to help those suffering from fibromyalgia get the treatments they need to reduce the frequency and severity of their fibromyalgia flare-ups.
For our fibromyalgia patients with severe symptoms, we may recommend ketamine therapy.
Here, we want to explain how ketamine controls fibromyalgia pain and how it might help you.
Your fibromyalgia pain
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease that causes all-over body pain that’s not connected to any easily identified physical or physiological problem. In addition to the pain, many people with fibromyalgia have chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, memory problems, and anxiety.
Though there are many unknowns, researchers theorize that people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain because of problems with the brain neurotransmitters that receive and transmit pain signals.
Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, and researchers think that a genetic mutation in the gene that makes these neurotransmitters may cause the heightened pain sensitivity. Although, for the record, anyone can develop fibromyalgia.
How ketamine therapy works
Ketamine is a general anesthetic typically used for surgery. It works as an antagonist to the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain, blocking the actions of excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate so you feel sleepy.
Ketamine therapy for chronic pain is a new use of the drug that’s showing great promise. Though researchers are still investigating how ketamine controls pain, they theorize that the medication may activate opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain sensations and increase gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA) levels so you feel more relaxed.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and has the opposite effect of glutamate.
Ketamine for your fibromyalgia
Ketamine therapy isn’t a firstline treatment for fibromyalgia. We only recommend ketamine for severe cases.
Ketamine may reduce pain sensations in people with fibromyalgia by blocking NMDA, which may play a role in the heightened pain sensations that affect people with fibromyalgia. It’s also theorized that ketamine therapy may reset the central nervous system, eliminating the heightened pain sensitivity altogether.
Though ketamine may provide pain relief, the effects may not last very long, and there’s so much more we need to know. Currently, clinical trials are investigating the efficacy of ketamine therapy as a co-treatment for fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is complex, which is why we take a holistic approach, using a combination of therapies that address all your fibromyalgia symptoms (fatigue, brain fog, anxiety), not just your pain.
If your fibromyalgia is taking over your life, we can help. Call our office today or request an appointment online. We also offer telehealth visits.