Botox can be a life-changing treatment for patients struggling with chronic migraines. Here we answer patients’ frequently asked questions.
Botox has been approved as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine by UK regulators, the MHPRA and comes after a trial of more than 1,300 patients* showed success in reducing the frequency of headaches. It is thought around 700,000 people in the UK are affected by chronic migraines.
“Chronic migraine is one of the most disabling forms of headache,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the FDA’s Division of Neurology Products. “Patients with chronic migraine experience a headache more than 14 days of the month. This condition can greatly affect family, work and social life, so it is important to have a variety of effective treatment options available.”
Chronic migraine headaches are described as an intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head. The headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound and is three times more prevalent in women than in men.
Chronic migraine symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Visual disturbances such as spots or flashing lights
- Sensitivity to light, noise, or smells
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tingling sensations, pins and needles, and weakness or numbness in the limbs
Botox injections have been shown to be highly effective in preventing the headaches, nausea and dizziness associated with chronic migraines that afflict hundreds of thousands of people every year. Botox works by temporarily paralysing key muscles in the forehead and neck, blocking the nerve connections. As well as being a muscle relaxant, Botox may also be effective at blocking pain signals. Clinical trials indicate that on average, a Botox treatment can reduce the frequency of migraine by about 50 per cent. For people who are having migraines virtually every day, this can make an enormous difference to the quality of their lives.
To treat chronic migraines, Botox is injected every 12-16 weeks to specific sites around the head, neck and upper back to try to dull future headache symptoms.
Chronic migraine sufferers should gain access to these treatments through the NHS to relieve their debilitating symptoms. It means patients will be able to visit their GP and be referred to a Headache Clinic/neurologist or Botox professional who may be able to apply a series of injections into their forehead and neck every three to six months.
Dr Tim Beazleigh of Melior Clinics of Harley Street, specialists in chronic migraine treatments with Botox comments “Botox is an established anti-wrinkle treatment in the field of facial aesthetics. However, in reality, Botox is also an extremely effective treatment for the relief of a wide variety of medical conditions including headaches and chronic migraines and is often the treatment of choice for medical practitioners, particularly for pain management and the relief of muscle spasms.”
* Headache (American Headache Society 2010) – Onabotulinumtoxin A for Treatment of Chronic Migraine: Pooled Results From the Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Phases of the PREEMPT Clinical Program
BMJ – Clinical Review – Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Management of Migraine. Peter J Goadsby 2006.
BBC News Health – Botox Approved for the Prevention of Chronic Migraine.