How Megan won her battle with Migraines
Migraines can be a crippling disorder and it is the third most common disease in the world. Almost one in every five American women and one in every 15 American men suffer from migraines – making it more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.
Unfortunately, some people do not respond to medications but new hope has been found through “repurposing” of the anesthetic agent ketamine. Ketamine has been used safely for over 50 years to provide anesthesia and pain relief to millions of adults and children but now has been found to be an effective treatment for those who fail to respond to other medications.
“We know it is rapidly effective for treating severe depression and we now know that it is also very effective for migraine suffers” says Dr. Grass of the Ketamine Institute. “We have used it for our patients who have seen a marked reduction in the frequency and intensities of their headache symptoms.
One such patient is Megan. She is a young, vivacious 20-year-old student who was debilitated by severe and unrelenting chronic migraines. She described the beginning of her migraine saying that she would see little sparks of light, or see what looks like bombs going off in darkness when she closed her eyes. She also experienced some short-term memory trouble, or trouble finding the right words.
Then she would feel heat coming over the side of her face, over her left cheek and left ear. Megan described her migraine pain as if a spike was being shoved up inside her head. It felt as if her head could explode from heat and pain. Sometimes, she said, it would hurt so badly I’d just be curled up in the fetal position in bed.
The pain changed her life. Megan had always dreamed of becoming a nurse but found that her headaches prevented her from continuing her education. She tried numerous medications, physical therapy, and acupuncture in the past without relief. She then underwent an invasive “neurostimulator” implant 2 years ago to alleviate her pain. While stimulator helped somewhat, she still suffered daily headaches and could not continue her studies.
Dr. Grass administered a series of three Restore Ketamine Infusions and the results were rapid and dramatic. She was headache free for the first time in 4 years. She could turn the stimulator off and hasn’t used it for months. Once again exercising and resuming yoga, Megan has resumed her studies and is now enrolled in nursing school – excited to begin a new part of her life without migraines.
“We were so happy for Megan, Dr. Grass said. She may still require a few maintenance infusions over the coming year but she is doing very, very well”.
Confirming ketamine’s effectiveness in migraines, Dr. Schwenk who is director of orthopedic anesthesia at the Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. He recently presented research at the Annual Anesthesiology meeting in Boston, that he co-authored on the potential for ketamine to treat severe migraines
To determine whether ketamine could help give relief to people who suffer from migraines, Schwenk and his colleagues gave them low doses of the drug. In the study, 61 patients received intravenous ketamine during inpatient treatment for migraines. Some 75 percent of the patients experienced improvements in their migraine intensity after a three- to seven-day course of treatment.
“Ketamine may hold promise as a treatment for migraine headaches in patients who have failed other treatments,” said Schwenk in a statement about the study, which has not yet been published.
Dr. Grass, who has been using ketamine to treat chronic pain for the past 15 years, said that there appears to be an optimal dose of the medication that works best for each patient and condition. By individually adjusting the dose of the medication the results improve and can be extended. The Restore Infusion is a unique ketamine treatment that is individually tailored to each patient and medically supervised. It has been found to be effective in 85% of patients and provide longer lasting benefits that other ketamine infusions.
Naturally, a medical treatment requires extensive testing before doctors can call it effective. But fortunately, ketamine has a long history of medical use, which means doctors have had a lot of time to learn about dosages, effects, and side effects.