Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a condition that affects nearly 10 million Americans, causing pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional distress. It is a neurological issue that is attributed to abnormal perception of pain and overstimulation of NMDA receptors (CDC, 2017). Increased activity in NMDA receptors leads to an upregulation of the central nervous system, lowering an individual’s pain threshold.
By blocking NMDA receptors, Ketamine increases the concentration of glutamate in the prefrontal cortex, an area where fibromyalgia patients may lack sufficient concentrations of this excitatory neurotransmitter (HealthRising). It may also improve chronic pain by increasing dopamine concentrations. Due to these effects, Ketamine has recently been used to treat fibromyalgia.
In a study investigating the effects of the drug, Ketamine reduced referred pain, muscular hyperalgesia, and muscle pain in FMS patients while at rest. More than half of these participants endorsed at least a 50% decrease in their pain levels after IV infusions of Ketamine (Graven-Nielsen, et al. 2000). In another study comparing the effects of Ketamine with lidocaine and morphine, individuals that received Ketamine experienced the most significant pain reduction during and after the test period (Sörensen, Bengtsson, Bäckman, Henriksson, & Bengtsson 1995). These results indicate that IV Ketamine successfully reduces symptoms for many patients with FMS, working as a more potent pain reliever than other, more commonly used treatments.