Migraine headaches can be absolutely debilitating and if you’re one of the 30 million migraine sufferers in this country, you know the social and psychological impact they can have on your life. They imprison sufferers, stopping them from enjoying just about anything in their lives and even take an economic toll, reducing work productivity by more than 13 billion dollars.
This complex disorder is usually unilateral and in some cases, associated with visual or sensory symptoms. Patient’s often describe their headache pain as ranging from moderate to severe, throbbing tor pulsatile, and exacerbated by physical activity, sound and light. A typical migraine can last anywhere from 4-72 hours and patients often develop nausea and vomiting.
Treatment of migraines typically falls under two categories—acute/abortive therapy and preventive/prophylactic therapy. Patients are often frustrated by how ineffective these treatment options can be.
In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a preventive treatment option for migraines. They based their approval on the results of two studies involving 1,384 adults in North America and Europe. The studies (published in the March 2010 issue of Cephalalgia) reported a major decrease in the frequency of headache days.
How to Treat Migraines with Botox
As an ophthalmologist, I often see patients with migraines who hope that their symptoms can be attributed to outdated glasses. I see the frustration on their faces when I tell them that their eyes are perfectly healthy. Patients with migraines are far too often disappointed with the news that there is nothing new to offer in terms of treatment. Until now…
I have been treating patients with Botox for over five years for both cosmetic and functional medical diseases. A patient of mine saw the brochures in the office and asked if I would consider using Botox for her migraines. Wanting to gather all the facts I could, I researched the success of Botox on migraines and discussed this option with local Allergen (producers of Botox) reps. I found nothing but positive feedback. Getting the patient approved with insurance was quick and easy. After filling out a 10-minute questionnaire and a brief exam, we had all the information needed to submit to her insurance company. Within two weeks she was approved and we moved forward with administering the product. A series of simple injections around the head and neck took a matter of minutes and she reported minimal pain with the injections. (Although truthfully, I think compared with headaches, migraine patients can endure almost anything.)
Approximately two weeks later I saw the patient again and she could not thank me enough. She reported her headache frequency had reduced by almost 90% and that the pain intensity had gone down substantially too. She was so thankful and said she felt she was “getting her life back.” I wasn’t completely sold until my second patient described similar results and was almost moved to tears by the treatment’s success. I have since used Botox on several other patients with migraines and everyone has reported decreased frequency in the episodes.
It’s always rewarding to help patients see better or fix their acute eye issues. But very few of my patients endure such chronic pain as the ones that suffer from migraines. To help decrease their symptoms from such a long and debilitating ailment truly puts a smile on my face.
Watch this video below with happy COA patient Jeannette Kline to see how Botox is relieving her migraines and changing her life.