Migraine and Botox treatment

Migraine and Botox treatment

I’m delighted to welcome as a guest blogger Dr Sarah Norman, who runs BrightNewMe, a non-surgical cosmetic procedures clinic.  A qualified doctor of 26 years standing, with extensive experience in hospital and general practice, Dr Norman has a particular interest in dermatology.  The unregulated nature of the aesthetics industry concerns Dr Norman, who believes that treatment with botulinum toxins and dermal fillers injections should be regarded as a medical procedure, and carried out by appropriately qualified individuals.   In this blog post Dr Norman discusses the use of Botox® to treat migraine.

“Chronic migraine affects around 2% of the population, and for those unfortunate enough to suffer from this debilitating condition it can have a major impact on quality of life. But how much do we know about the nature of migraines, what causes them, and what can be done to alleviate or prevent them?

Put simply, migraine is a condition of recurring headaches that are often linked with other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and noise, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and changes to the eyesight. Our understanding of migraine has improved greatly in the last decade, and it now accepted that migraine is essentially a disorder of how sensory information, such as pain, light or sound, is dealt with by the brain. Those who suffer from migraine often have an unusually sensitive nervous system, that is particularly sensitive to change (even changes which most people would not even notice). There is thought to be a strong genetic element.

Unfortunately, in terms of what can ‘trigger’ the onset of migraine, the list of possible suspects can be very long. A trigger is any event, change, external stimulus, or physical act which seems to result in migraine. The trigger event can happen many hours before the migraine presents itself. Sufferers are advised to keep detailed diaries to help identify their own triggers, which is a slow and painstaking task. To make matters even more challenging, a trigger may not cause an attack every time.

Avoidance of identified triggers can often be very helpful. However, if lifestyle changes are not enough, then medical intervention would be indicated. There are a number of different medications available to prevent migraines, such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, antihistamines and betablockers. Many of those who experience migraines have to try a range of different medications before they find a treatment course that suits and works for them.

For some migraine sufferers, not even prescription medications are enough to prevent and alleviate their symptoms, and in such circumstances the use of Botox® can be indicated. Botox® was formally licensed for treating chronic migraine in 2012, in cases where preventative medications have been ineffective or not tolerated by the patient. Clinical trials have shown that Botox® can significantly reduce the number of ‘headache days’, thereby improving quality of life, for migraine sufferers.

So how does Botox® help alleviate chronic migraines? Well, in contrast to the way that it reduces muscle impulses when used for anti-wrinkle purposes, the injections for migraine sufferers are believed to block the transmission of pain signals through the nerve fibres. Treatment involves a number of injections of Botox® into specific sites across the forehead, temples, back of head, upper neck and trapezius muscles (the muscles behind the neck/ shoulders). The effects would typically be noticed within a few days of treatment, and treatment would generally be effective for 3 months. Repeat treatment would normally be recommended every 12 weeks to prevent the migraines returning.

The NHS does fund the use of Botox® for treating migraines, though strict criteria do apply and not all areas have access to this treatment. For those who cannot get NHS treatment it is available privately, which is costly, but for those experiencing severe migraines any treatment which actually works is considered a worthwhile investment.

My recommendation for any migraine sufferer would be to first consult their general practitioner, to see what options might be available.”

Dr Sarah Norman


For more information on Dr Sarah Norman, and the whole range of treatments she provides, please do visit BrightNewMe, and see why I was so delighted for her to write a blog post for my site.

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