Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a persistent syndrome that affects about a third of the population in all Western countries, or around 17-44%¹. A health condition can cause chronic pain, but in some cases, the cause isn't always known. Chronic pain typically interrupts people’s daily lives, making it challenging to complete their responsibilities and participate in society due to their severe and persistent pain. One type of chronic condition is fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects around 10 million people in the United States alone, with the majority of those diagnosed with the disorder identifying as women². Fibromyalgia can heavily affect a person's quality of life, including their ability to function and have relations with other people¹.
Current Treatment For Fibromyalgia
This chronic condition has no curative treatment and often has no known cause. Research suggests cases of infection, trauma, and even long-lasting stress could trigger fibromyalgia². Fibromyalgia can also often run in families, indicating it can be a genetic condition³. Since there is no curative treatment for fibromyalgia, the main goal is to reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve the patient's quality of life. Its pain management relies on both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches¹.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Symptoms include a severe widespread body ache, which can affect both the upper and lower body, and can last three months or longer. Fibromyalgia patients often experience chronic fatigue, as the chronic pain can be severe enough to disrupt sleep by either preventing patients from falling asleep or causing them to wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes referred to as “fibro fog,” these patients may also experience cognitive issues with disturbances in memory, causing irritability and confusion. Similar to all chronic pain conditions, living with fibromyalgia can also lead to mood disorders and declining mental health, such as developing depression and anxiety³.
Current Research on Fibromyalgia
Research suggests that these patients may be experiencing pain signals differently than those without a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The pain receptors in the brain of those with fibromyalgia can develop memories and become more sensitive to past pain, causing potential overreactions to both pain and non-painful sensations³.
Although it’s still being explored, evidence supports that this low pain threshold is caused by central sensitization and disordered pain regulation at the spinal cord and supraspinal levels, with a resulting imbalance between excitation and inhibition… (which) may alter central nervous system nociceptive processing⁴.
With the severity of fibromyalgia, unsuccessful pain management, and a lack of curative treatments, many people look to ketamine infusions as a treatment for fibromyalgia pain.
Ketamine for Fibromyalgia
Ketamine is an anesthetic with antidepressant qualities used to treat physical pain and mental health symptoms. Administered in low doses, ketamine infusions can lessen symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even symptoms of chronic pain. If other treatments for fibromyalgia have been ineffective, ketamine treatments may be a great option for minimizing chronic pain and any mental health symptoms you may have developed from living with fibromyalgia³.
Ketamine is known for enhancing dopamine activity² and for blocking pain receptors in the brain, making it ideal for relieving chronic pain and hypersensitivity from fibromyalgia.³
The anesthetic was introduced as a viable treatment for fibromyalgia and chronic pain in a study conducted in 1995, in which eleven patients received significant changes in the intensity of their pain. A 1997 study looked at eighteen individuals with fibromyalgia after receiving IV ketamine. Thirteen of the individuals responded favorably to one or several of the drugs involved in the test. Later, a 2000s study revealed that ketamine can help to reduce muscular pain, referred pain, and temporal summation experienced by those suffering from fibromyalgia².
In 2018, a patient suffering from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis described severe pain that was non-responsive to other pain medications and treatments. The patient was administered 10 consecutive ketamine treatments. After the series of ketamine, the patient reported symptoms of pain to be nearly gone for the time being².
Ketamine is believed to relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic pain because it encourages a reset of the central nervous system, reversing adverse effects of central sensitization¹. The same neurotransmitters responsible for pain receptors also regulate sleep, cognition, energy, and emotional networks in the brain⁴, and, as a result, ketamine may be a viable option for reducing pain and improving the quality of life for fibromyalgia patients and anyone experiencing chronic pain.
Avesta Ketamine and Wellness
Avesta has been the number one referral source for John Hopkins pain management clinics as the IV Ketamine clinic of choice for all chronic pain patients. At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we value your physical and mental health and are committed to improving your well-being. If you are interested in learning about how ketamine infusions may assist with pain management for fibromyalgia or other chronic conditions, please schedule a consultation. Avesta has been the number one referral source for John Hopkins pain management clinics as the IV Ketamine clinic of choice for all chronic pain patients.
¹ Javorcikova, Z., Dangoisse, M., Nikis, S., Lechat, J.-P., Gillain, A., Fils, J.-F., & Van der Linden, P. (2021, November 27). The place of S-ketamine in fibromyalgia treatment (ESKEFIB): Study protocol for a prospective, single-center, double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, dose-escalation controlled trial - trials. BioMed Central. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-021-05814-4
² Treating fibromyalgia pain with ketamine. TMS & Brain Health. (2022, August 20). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.tmsbrainhealth.com/treating-fibromyalgia-pain-with-ketamine/
³ Can ketamine help my fibromyalgia? Florida Medical Pain Management. (2022, July 5). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.fmpm.com/can-ketamine-help-my-fibromyalgia/
⁴ Pastrak, M., Abd-Elsayed, A., Ma, F., Vrooman, B., & Visnjevac, O. (2021). Systematic review of the use of intravenous ketamine for fibromyalgia. The Ochsner journal. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8675611/
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-touching-her-back-4506105/