July 29

Ketamine for Migraines


What is ketamine? 

Ketamine has been used for many years as an anesthetic for medical procedures. It first gained widespread attention and use during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, due to the drug’s hallucinatory and sedative side effects, ketamine is often abused as a street drug. Recently, many studies have been undertaken to determine its impact on a variety of conditions including migraines. 

When administered to a patient, ketamine seems to work with the brain by preventing the production of glutamate, which is an important neurotransmitter critical to the communication of the brain and the rest of the body. Ketamine also seems to bind to NMDA receptors which are also responsible for important functions. These interferences result in a kind of sedative feeling. 

It’s critical to keep in mind that ketamine is an illicit substance when not prescribed or administered under the supervision of a qualified and licensed professional. 

Is ketamine therapy effective for migraines? 

Ketamine for Migraines

Since clinical studies involving the administration of ketamine for migraines are still relatively rare, there is still a lot to be learned about how this drug interacts with the brain. Of the studies that have been conducted, there are some intriguing results. 

In Philadelphia, scientists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital conducted a study with 61 patients. These individuals received regular ketamine treatments, and it was determined that around three out of four patients with migraines reported experiencing improvements in the intensity of their pain towards the end of the period of treatment. 

What do experts say about using ketamine for migraines? 

Although ketamine infusion therapy for migraines is a relatively new field of study, there are prominent researchers and doctors who have positive things to say about it: 

“IV Ketamine Infusions offer hope to my treatment-resistant migraine patients and give them relief from their pain and suffering. There are numerous research studies by top universities and hospitals regarding the use of Ketamine for numerous conditions such as migraine.” – Dr. Ashraf Hanna, Physician and Director of Pain Management at the Florida Spine Institute 

“Ketamine may hold promise as a treatment for migraine headaches in patients who have failed other treatments…Our study focused only on short-term relief, but it is encouraging that this treatment might have the potential to help patients long term.” – Dr. Eric Schwenk 

What other conditions is ketamine therapy used to treat?

  • Ketamine for depression
  • Ketamine for anxiety
  • Ketamine for migraines
  • Ketamine for OCD
  • Ketamine for bipolar disorder
  • Ketamine for chronic pain
  • Ketamine assisted therapy or psychotherapy

What are the risks of ketamine treatment for migraines? 

According to Dr. Eric Schwenk who has studied the impact of ketamine treatment of migraines, “the chance of side effects is substantially less for patients getting treatment for headaches.” In fact, in Dr. Schwenk’s study that involved many patients, only one opted to quit the infusions due to side effects. Although ketamine has earned a reputation for producing serious side effects, some people think that the slower and lower dosage of ketamine for migraines explains why some patients seem to not experience many. 

As with the vast majority of treatments, there is some risk involved with ketamine infusion therapy for migraines. Here are some feelings or experiences some patients might have after treatment: 

  • Amnesia 
  • Delirium 
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea 
  • Slurred speech 

How can I receive ketamine treatment for migraines? 

In-clinic ketamine therapy 

The most common method for receiving ketamine treatment for migraines is within a clinic. 

There are many clinics throughout the United States that offer ketamine infusions for migraines. However, due to the sensitive legal nature of this procedure, it’s critical that patients ensure they’re dealing with licensed and legitimate providers. 

At-home ketamine therapy 

While not a common form of ketamine treatment, there are some providers that offer at-home treatments. However, this isn’t always a suitable option for patients. 

What happens during sessions for ketamine for migraines? 

Ketamine for Migraines 2

How long is a typical session for IV? 

While it varies between each provider, using ketamine infusion therapy for migraines can last for a few hours. The infusion itself can take around 45 minutes to a full hour. However, there are sometimes medical checks beforehand. In addition, patients might need to stay after for 20 minutes to a full hour being monitored by a doctor before being discharged. 

How long is a typical session for intramuscular?

Unfortunately, there’s not sufficient research regarding the administration of ketamine via intramuscular infusion for migraines in order to offer a clear answer. 

How long is a typical at-home ketamine therapy session? 

While only a few clinics offer at-home ketamine therapy treatments, it can be estimated that the length of these sessions could be similar to those performed at the clinic, which is around two to three hours long. 

What will I feel during the session?

The experiences and feeling patients might experience during an infusion of ketamine for migraines will vary between each individual. Many patients remain awake while even being able to interact with people around them. Some individuals have an experience of disconnection from their body, slight time and space distortions, mild hallucinations, nausea, and dizziness. Following the infusion, some patients return to feeling normal after just about 15 to 30 minutes. 

How much do ketamine infusions cost? 

Infusion treatments involving ketamine for migraines are slightly more expensive than other IV infusions using the same drug since this condition might require longer infusions. The cost of a single infusion of ketamine for migraines can cost around $600

Am I eligible for insurance coverage? 

It’s not common practice for insurance companies to offer coverage for forms of ketamine therapy. As the FDA has yet to approve many treatments involving ketamine, it’s understandable that major insurance companies want to keep their distance. 

Does ketamine therapy intervene with my current treatment plan?

Due to the general lack of studies conducted on treatments involving ketamine for migraines, there’s not a lot of information regarding how this drug interacts with other medications or treatments. However, some clinics report that taking benzodiazepines might interfere with the administration of ketamine for migraines. Some ketamine clinics also report that Lamotrigine has “unpredictable interactions” with the drug when it comes to efficacy. It’s important to discuss with your primary healthcare provider to determine whether or not ketamine therapy for migraines would interfere with your current treatment plan. 

What to look for in a good ketamine provider? 

When searching for a good ketamine provider, you don’t want to rush into the decision. Just like with any other medical treatment, you want to ensure that the providers are capable of giving the care you need in terms of expertise, qualifications, and customer experience. 

Expertise: Despite this being a relatively new field, you might still want to make sure the provider has the experience and expertise needed to carry out ketamine infusions for migraines properly and safely. 

Qualifications: Due to the sensitive legal nature of ketamine therapy, it’s imperative that potential patients determine that the provider has all of the legal licenses, qualifications, certifications, and all other documents that might be necessary to legally carry out the practice.

Customer Experience: You might want to request customer reviews or testimonials to get an idea of how previous patients feel about the provider. 

I am ready to take the next step, what do I do? 

For those interested in understanding more about ketamine therapy and whether it’s a good idea given their needs, please fill out the quick two-minute assessment. Afterward, you can schedule a completely free consultation to have your questions answered. 

Please refer to our in-depth article about ketamine therapy for more information

Is ketamine effective for migraines?

While more research needs to be conducted, many studies have suggested that ketamine can be effective in reducing the pain associated with migraines for some patients.

Does ketamine work for migraines?

Many studies have supported the idea that ketamine might be a possible treatment for some patients with migraines that don’t seem treatable by other more standard methods.

Where to get ketamine infusions for migraines?

There are many clinics throughout the United States that offer ketamine infusions for migraines. However, due to the sensitive legal nature of this procedure, it’s critical that patients ensure they’re dealing with licensed and legitimate providers.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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