When most people think of ketamine they think of it as a dangerous class B drug (it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell), or possibly of its use as a horse tranquilliser. What it is less commonly considered to be is a good treatment for migraines and other chronic pain. That may be changing.
At the 2016 American Academy of Pain Management annual meeting, the use of ketamine as a treatment for chronic pain conditions was discussed and its benefits presented to the attendees. In a presentation by Duren Michael Ready MD, a headache specialist at Baylor, Scott & White Health in Texas, he showed that a 25-milligram ketamine nasal spray reduces the severity of migraine auras, and in addition to this, that a 10-50mg dose is an alternative treatment for sudden flares of pain.
Another use suggested by Ready is that of a treatment for depression; 50mg of ketamine nasal spray being his recommendation in this case. Again this may be helpful to migraine sufferers as depression is a condition which is five times more likely to affect migraine sufferers as opposed to those who do not get migraines. Ready did make it clear however that ketamine should be prescribed and its usage monitored carefully.
Another advocate of ketamine was Neurologist Hisham Hakim MD, chairman of the American Spine Center in Birmingham Atlanta. He suggested the use of a topical ketamine cream, as well as agreeing that the nasal spray was an effective form of administration. The dose he suggested (the same sort of doses as put forward by Ready) would not induce sedation in the patient, but only help to block the pain. One unfortunate side effect which he did mention was that ketamine might result in those with migraines having hallucinations or out of body feelings.
The potential benefits of ketamine for migraine sufferers look to be clear, but we hasten to add that the findings of ketamine studies were all presented in a medical conference environment, and should not be considered final. They are yet to be peer-reviewed or approved. Nevertheless, the possibility of prescribed pain relief thanks to ketamine seems to be there.
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