In the United States, 28 million people suffer from migraine headaches
48 percent of these people have a disabling migraine once every three months. Migraine headache is the most common neurological disorder treated in the outpatient setting. Migraine is a complex disorder of the nervous system. In addition to the head pain, presenting symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting, one-sided pain, phonophobia (sensitivity to noise), photophobia (sensitivity to light), and osmophobia (increased sensitivity and intolerance to odors). The pain may be pulsatile. About 20% of patients have an aura. An aura is a transient focal neurological disturbance, which is typically a visual disturbance and lasts 15-20 minutes; the migraine pain usually lasts anywhere from 3 hours to several days.
Migraine headaches are managed through a variety of methods, such as identifying and avoiding triggers, behavioral modifications such as sleep, relaxation therapy, explanation and reassurance, prescription medication and neural blockade through medications, nerve blocks, or chemo denervation with the use of botulinum toxin injections. Botulinum toxin injection is now FDA approved for the treatment of chronic migraine headaches.
Most of us know Botox® because of its ability to reduce the appearance of wrinkles on the face. What is less known is that Botox treatment can help prevent migraine headache for chronic migraine patients (more than 15 days per month). Botox does not treat migraine headache symptoms that have already begun.
We typically prescribe Botox treatment every twelve weeks for migraines. Multiple doses are injected with a small needle in specific points along the patient's head and neck. Patients tell us that feels like tiny pinpricks.
It may take up to 14 days for the patient to experience improvement. Some patients need a second set of injections to begin to see a reduction in migraine episodes. Botox injections may not work for some patients.
5 quick things you should know about BOTOX® treatment
1. It prevents headaches and migraines before they even start. BOTOX® prevents on average 8 or 9 headache days and migraine/probable migraine days a month (vs 6 to 7 for placebo) at 24 weeks.
2. It's given every 12 weeks. It will take 2 treatments, 12 weeks apart to determine how well BOTOX® is working for you. If you don’t get treated every 12 weeks, you may not get the full benefit of BOTOX®.
3. It's a small needle. People say that the injections feel like tiny pinpricks.
4. It's injected by a BOTOX® specialist. This is a doctor who's experienced in treating with BOTOX®.
5. It takes about 15 minutes. The injections take about 15 minutes, and are done right in your doctor's office.