Chronic pain, any pain that lasts 12 weeks or more after an injury or illness, is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care. Approximately 25% of American adults experience chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread and chronic musculoskeletal pain. Some 4 million adults in the United States, or around 2%, have been diagnosed with the syndrome, most of them women.
In addition to living with chronic pain, people with fibromyalgia may have a lower pain threshold than people without fibromyalgia. This is known as abnormal pain perception processing.
At Coastal Pain Medicine, osteopathic physician Dr. Patrick Brennan and our staff understand that living with chronic pain, including the elusive pain of fibromyalgia, can undermine your quality of life.
That’s why we offer a number of treatment options, including ketamine therapy, to provide as much symptom relief as possible.
We’re not sure what causes the widespread, chronic pain of fibromyalgia. The latest research seems to indicate some people may have a genetic predisposition for it, complemented by one or more triggers such as infection, trauma, or stress.
One theory is that the brain itself lowers the body’s threshold for pain, and sensations that shouldn’t be painful do become very painful over time.
Another theory is that the brain and nerves either misinterpret or overreact to normal pain signals — or even normal body sounds, like digestion or your heartbeat. The brain and nerves become so sensitive to incoming signals that they cause unnecessary or exaggerated pain.
This sensitivity could come from a chemical imbalance in the brain or an abnormality in the dorsal root ganglion, a cluster of neurons in the spine.
A growing body of research suggests people with fibromyalgia may have low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin or low serotonin activity. That’s why some people respond well to the antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which raise the levels of serotonin.
Serotonin deficiency is linked with many physical and psychological symptoms.
Physical symptoms include:
Psychological symptoms include:
All of these symptoms are common among those living with fibromyalgia.
Antidepressants, whether for pain or a mood disorder, seem great until you realize that about a third of patients are resistant to the medications. In addition, only 20% of the body’s neurotransmitters come from serotonin or norepinephrine, another mood- and pain-altering substance.
The remaining 80% of transmitters are composed of glutamate and GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, low levels of which result in depression and pain. And that’s where ketamine comes in.
Ketamine began life as a battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s, made its way as an anesthetic in hospital operating rooms a decade later, and finally as a calming agent for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. As an anesthetic, it’s also ideal for treating pain.
Ketamine specifically targets glutamate, which regulates processing of emotions and thoughts, and has the ability to form new connections between nerve cells in the brain.
Glutamate forms GABA, and neurotransmitter levels rise to normal levels; ketamine essentially resets the brain’s mood and pain thresholds.
And ketamine can repair inflammation damage caused by long-term stress and stress hormones like cortisol, which leads to increased pain.
Research at Yale University also found the nerve connections formed with ketamine therapy gave patients the ability to develop more positive thoughts and behaviors.
Unlike antidepressants, which can take up to three months or more to build to effective levels, ketamine takes only 24 hours to make changes in the brain, taking the edge off your pain as you continue therapy.
If you’re living with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia or another pain disorder, it’s time to come into Coastal Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach, Florida, to find out if ketamine therapy can work for you. To schedule, call our office at 954-833-8552 today, or reach us online.