Ketamine may help treat migraine pain unresponsive to other therapies

October 21, 2017

BOSTON - Ketamine, a medication commonly used for pain relief and increasingly used for depression, may help alleviate migraine pain in patients who have not been helped by other treatments, suggests a study being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2017 annual meeting.

The study of 61 patients found that almost 75 percent experienced an improvement in their migraine intensity after a three- to seven-day course of inpatient treatment with ketamine. The drug is used to induce general anesthesia but also provides powerful pain control for patients with many painful conditions in lower doses than its anesthetic use.

"Ketamine may hold promise as a treatment for migraine headaches in patients who have failed other treatments," said study co-author Eric Schwenk, M.D., director of orthopedic anesthesia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. "Our study focused only on short-term relief, but it is encouraging that this treatment might have the potential to help patients long-term. Our work provides the basis for future, prospective studies that involve larger numbers of patients."

An estimated 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from migraines - recurring attacks of throbbing or pulsing moderate to severe pain. A subset of these patients, along with those who suffer from other types of headaches, do not respond to treatment. During a migraine, people are often very sensitive to light, sound and may become nauseated or vomit. Migraines are three times more common in women than in men.

The researchers reviewed data for patients who received ketamine infusions for intractable migraine headaches - migraines that have failed all other therapies. On a scale of 0-10, the average migraine headache pain rating at admission was 7.5, compared with 3.4 on discharge. The average length of infusion was 5.1 days, and the day of lowest pain ratings was day 4. Adverse effects were generally mild.

Dr. Schwenk said while his hospital uses ketamine to treat intractable migraines, the treatment is not yet widely available. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital will be opening a new infusion center this fall that will treat more patients with headaches using ketamine. "We hope to expand its use to both more patients and more conditions in the future," he said.

"Due to the retrospective nature of the study, we cannot definitively say that ketamine is entirely responsible for the pain relief, but we have provided a basis for additional larger studies to be undertaken," Dr. Schwenk added.
-end-
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS

Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Join the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2017 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES17.

American Society of Anesthesiologists

Related Migraine Articles from Brightsurf:

Disparities in migraine by sexual orientation
Survey data were used to examine the association between sexual orientation (exclusively heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual) and migraine.

Can you paint your migraine?
'Can you draw me a picture of your headache?' may sound like an unusual question - but drawings of headache pain provide plastic surgeons with valuable information on which patients are more or less likely to benefit from surgery to alleviate migraine headaches.

Acupuncture can reduce migraine headaches
Acupuncture can reduce migraine headaches compared to both sham (placebo) acupuncture and usual care, finds a new trial from China published by The BMJ today.

Migraine rats, medical facts
Migraine mechanisms are still far from being fully understood. Escalating data from animal models are 'fact-checking' the neurophysiological and behavioral correlates of the migraine experience in humans, and how they may be affected by current anti-migraine drugs or might translate into new therapies.

Connecting the dots in the migraine brain
This dMRI study pointed to the structural strengthening of connections involving subcortical regions associated with pain processing and weakening in connections involving cortical regions associated with hyperexcitability may coexist in migraine.

Predictors of chronic migraine
A review and meta-analysis found predictors of chronic migraine. Depression, high frequency attacks, medication overuse and allodynia increased the chances for new onset chronic migraine, while annual income -- US$ 50,000 showed a protective effect.

On nitroglycerin, cardiovascular homeostasis and...bam, migraine!
Researchers in Leiden, The Netherlands, found an exaggerated cardiovascular response to nitroglycerin infusion in migraine patients, suggesting an elevated systemic sensitivity to this compound in this population.

All roads lead to migraine
Dr. Samaira Younis, from the Danish Headache Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, shares her research results, which suggests there are no differences between migraine attacks clinical characteristics following administration of 2 different compounds in patients, CGRP and sildenafil, meaning they share common cellular signaling pathways.

Running away from exercise: The curious case of migraine
In spite of the widespread recommendation for regular physical activity as a strategy to manage migraine, for some patients, exercise can instead trigger migraine attacks.

Migraine prevention in children and adolescents
Two medicines already used to prevent migraine in adults also showed efficacy in adolescents with migraine.

Read More: Migraine News and Migraine Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.