In a CBS News segment focusing on fibromyalgia and its impact on patients, Dr. Ashraf Hanna, a board certified physician and director of pain management at the Florida Spine Institute in Clearwater, Florida, described using intravenous ketamine to successfully treat the disease.
One of Dr. Hanna’s patients, Kathryn Barber, was also on the program. Ms. Barber, a former president of a large international corporation, had to step away from that success after developing fibromyalgia. As with many patients, she had waited years to receive a diagnosis, had tried numerous treatments without success, and was bedridden by the time she started treatment at the Florida Spine Institute.
Ms. Barber told the show: “I was suffering from widespread chronic pain and fatigue for 25 years, and after a very long time, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2007. During this time, I was bedridden and did not have a functional life. My pain was managed with medication, but this did not help my condition.
“Finally, in 2014, I began intravenous ketamine treatment at the Florida Spine Institute with Dr. Hanna in Clearwater, Florida,” she said. “This treatment has virtually eliminated my fibromyalgia pain and need for pain medication. It has given me back a quality of life and increased energy to do things I hadn’t done in years.”
Dr. Hanna said that the Institute was “really proud” to offer intravenous ketamine treatment to fibromyalgia patients who have failed to find relief through other treatment strategies.
“These patients are really suffering, and many have lost hope. We are able to reduce pain levels dramatically for many patients. Just seeing Kathryn’s remarkable recovery is a blessing for us all,” Dr. Hanna said, according to a press release.
“Intravenous ketamine blocks receptors in the brain that are responsible for releasing chemicals that cause inflammation of the nervous system that, in turn, can cause fibromyalgia pain symptoms. What makes our program different is that we incorporate physical and psychotherapy so that we not only improve pain, but also improve function, and we have seen amazing results,” Dr. Hanna added.
Ketamine is an anesthetic mostly used in veterinary medicine, and as a recreational drug for its effects that mimic phencyclidine (PCP). Research into ketamine as a possible treatment for depression, among other ills, has increased in recent years.
Depression is common in patients with fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain.
The segment aired on Jan. 8, 2016, on a CBS News affiliate.