Migraines & Chronic Headaches

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Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Migraines & Chronic Headaches

Almost 49 million people in the United States suffer from migraines or other forms of chronic headaches. Globally, this number exceeds 1 billion people. More than 90% of people with migraines are unable to work or function normally during their migraines. Consequently, healthcare and lost productivity costs are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually. Migraines affect women almost 3x more than men, and most people are afflicted between the ages of 35-45. While there are many different presenting symptoms of migraines,

typically the headaches affect one half of the head and the pain is pulsating in nature. Painful symptoms usually last from 2-72 hours, but some patients do not have relief from their migraine headache for days or weeks. Patients with migraines or chronic headaches can also have the associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and smell, depression, and anxiety. About 1/3 of patients with migraine headaches will have an aura, which is a short period of visual disturbance that signals the onset of pain.

It is unclear exactly what causes migraines and chronic headaches, but it is believed to be due to a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Roughly 2/3 of cases run in families. Symptoms seem to lessen in women during pregnancy, so hormones may play a role in migraine headaches. Migraine treatment is complex due to many different patient symptoms and their responses to different treatment modalities. Non-pharmacological migraine treatments focus on avoidance of triggers, resting in a quiet and dim room, and meditation.

Medicines used for migraine treatment include over-the-counter ibuprofen and Tylenol, or prescription medicines such as triptans or ergotamines.

Caffeine has also been shown to improve headache symptoms in some patients with migraines. Recent research has focused on ketamine infusions for the treatment of migraines and chronic headaches. Ketamine is a NMDA antagonist, which means it blocks pain pathways. In addition, ketamine also appears to reduce the activity of glutamate, which is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. The research results have shown that ketamine infusions for the treatment of migraines and other types of chronic headaches have been impressive. In one study, over 92% of patients with migraines reported greater than 50% reduction in pain. Patients with cluster headaches reported complete resolution of their pain. And for patients with non-specific headache and facial pain, over 80% reported significant or complete resolution of their pain. Due to study results like these, the use of ketamine infusions has become a promising new tool for the treatment of migraines, and providing migraine relief.

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