What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is considered a complex disorder, and its exact cause is not fully understood. The condition is more common in women than men. It typically starts between the ages of 30 and 60, although it can occur at any age.

Key features of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread Pain: The hallmark symptom is widespread, chronic pain that affects various parts of the body. The pain can be described as a constant dull ache, often accompanied by a sensation of stiffness.
  • Tender Points: People with fibromyalgia often have specific tender points on their body. These tender points are specific locations that are more sensitive to pressure than surrounding areas.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue and lack of energy are common complaints among individuals with fibromyalgia. Even after a full night's sleep, they may wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Sleep disturbances are common in fibromyalgia, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, and waking up feeling tired.
  • Cognitive Issues: Many people with fibromyalgia experience cognitive difficulties often referred to as "fibro fog." This can involve problems with memory, concentration, and focus.
  • Other Symptoms: Other symptoms that may occur in fibromyalgia include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), sensitivity to noise, light, and temperature changes.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on a clinical evaluation by a healthcare professional, taking into account the patient's medical history, symptoms, and a physical examination. There is no specific test or imaging study to confirm the diagnosis, which can make it challenging to diagnose.

Cause of Fibromyalgia

While the exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unclear, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Treatment for fibromyalgia often involves a multidisciplinary approach. This can include pain management, physical therapy, exercise, stress reduction techniques, and medications to manage symptoms. The goal of treatment is to improve the patient's quality of life and reduce the impact of symptoms on daily functioning.

How Does Ketamine Work to Treat Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex and often debilitating chronic pain disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Its exact cause remains elusive, making treatment a challenging task for healthcare professionals and patients alike. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia may be related to abnormalities in the way the central nervous system processes pain signals. Traditional treatments, such as painkillers and physical therapy, may provide some relief. But, they are not always effective for everyone. In recent years, an unconventional yet promising treatment has emerged – ketamine therapy.

Ketamine is primarily known as a dissociative anesthetic, commonly used for anesthesia during surgeries. However, researchers have started to explore its potential beyond its anesthetic properties. In recent years, ketamine has been studied for its efficacy in treating various mental health conditions. Examples includes depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, it has shown promise as a potential treatment for chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

Ketamine's Mechanism of Action

Ketamine's mechanism of action in treating fibromyalgia is not entirely understood, but it is believed to involve several interconnected processes. It primarily acts on the brain's NMDA receptors, which play a crucial role in pain perception and mood regulation.

  • NMDA Receptor Modulation: Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the activity of these receptors. By doing so, it may help reduce the overactive signaling that contributes to the amplified pain response observed in fibromyalgia patients.
  • Neuroplasticity: Ketamine has been shown to promote neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to rewire and form new connections between neurons. This effect may help the brain "reset" or reorganize its pain processing pathways, potentially leading to reduced pain sensitivity.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Ketamine also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which could be beneficial in fibromyalgia. Chronic inflammation is thought to contribute to the development and maintenance of fibromyalgia symptoms, and by reducing inflammation, ketamine may offer relief.
  • Altered Perception of Pain: Ketamine's dissociative properties may play a role in altering the patient's perception of pain. By creating a dissociative state, ketamine might help patients disconnect from their pain, offering temporary relief and potentially breaking the cycle of chronic pain.

Ketamine Infusion Treatment Plan for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a unique type of chronic pain regarding treatment with ketamine. Although most chronic pain conditions respond better to higher-dose (longer) infusions, fibromyalgia can respond well to a lower-dose series of six infusions that is typically utilized for mood disorders such as depression. Research has shown that although one infusion can provide rapid relief, the benefits generally wear off quickly and for some the effects are very subtle. Using a series of infusions allows the ketamine to have a greater and longer lasting effect in the brain resulting in sustained relief.

It is important to bear in mind that the theory of how ketamine works in the brain described above is a process that takes time, and one infusion will not erase years of struggling with fibromyalgia. It is also important to know that ketamine provides life-changing benefits for many patients, but it is not considered a cure and will almost certainly require ongoing maintenance infusions. The frequency can be variable from several weeks to several months in between treatments.

Ketamine Infusion Recommendations for Fibromyalgia

It is recommended to complete at least three infusions prior to deciding if the treatment is working for you. Most patients will be able to identify a clear benefit after the third infusion. If after three infusions, you do not feel that the treatment is providing any benefit at all then unfortunately you may be in a minority that do not respond well to ketamine therapy. This is very unfortunate, but it is essential to understand that it is possible you will try the treatment and not find the relief you are looking for.  Ultimately, there is no way to know if ketamine will work for you without actually trying it.

Data Driven Ketamine Treatment for Fibromyalgia

We use the data from published research to guide treatment. This often leads to using a treatment plan based on the “average patient”. There is merit in this approach but in reality, each patient is an individual and the response to treatment can likewise be very individual. Ketamine infusions are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Some clients report amazing relief with just one infusion. Others find little benefit after three infusions. But elect to proceed and ultimately find good benefit after the fourth or fifth infusion. The point being that we always proceed one step at a time.

NW Ketamine Infusion does not offer packages of infusions because there should be no pressure to proceed if the treatment isn’t right for you. The treatment should only be performed by qualified healthcare professionals in a controlled environment due to the risks associated with ketamine use.

Caution and Considerations When Using Ketamine Therapy

While ketamine shows significant promise in treating chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, it is essential to undergo a thorough screening prior to initiating treatment. Most patients can safely receive ketamine therapy. There are a few medical conditions that might require treatment prior to beginning therapy or stop you from receiving this treatment. A few examples are uncontrolled hypertension, active substance abuse, pregnancy or unstable cardiac disease. Ketamine is not a first-line or stand-alone treatment for chronic pain. Instead, it is intended to be one component of a multimodal treatment regimen.

It is essential to acknowledge that research in this area is still in its early stages. Most of the evidence supporting ketamine's efficacy comes from small-scale studies and case reports, limiting the ability to draw definitive conclusions. Additionally, long-term effects, safety, and optimal dosing regimens require further investigation.

Ketamine Therapy Approval for Fibromyalgia

It's important to note that ketamine therapy for fibromyalgia is not yet an FDA-approved treatment. As with any medical intervention, the decision to use ketamine should be made in consultation with a knowledgeable healthcare professional experienced in its use. Although the potential for addiction is extremely low, ketamine can be abused or misused. Close monitoring by qualified medical professionals is crucial during ketamine administration to ensure safety and appropriate dosing.


Fibromyalgia continues to challenge the medical community, necessitating novel and effective treatment approaches. Ketamine therapy offers a promising avenue in managing this complex condition. Its ability to modulate NMDA receptors, promote neuroplasticity, and potentially reduce inflammation may hold the key to alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms. While research is ongoing, ketamine therapy could become a valuable option for those whose lives are affected by the burden of fibromyalgia. As more studies are conducted, we can hope for a better understanding of ketamine's potential. And learn more about its integration into a comprehensive treatment plan for fibromyalgia patients.

If you have tried other forms of treatment and still suffer from fibromyalgia, please contact us for a free consultation.