Health Alert | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Medical Minute 8-2: Botox: Erasing Migraines, Not Wrinkles

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Driving, rain and lights. It never took much to trigger Irene Devine’s migraines.

“I’ve had headaches since I was 5 years old,” Irene said. ” I would be vomiting, I would be really debilitated.”

It’s a pain Sharon Roth felt nearly 20 hours each day.

“It feels like somebody has taken a dagger and a knife and just stuck it in the side of my head,” Sharon Roth said.

Her triggers are everything from scents to stress.

“My migraine controlled me. I couldn’t control my migraine,” Sharon said.

Both women were diagnosed with migraines at 17. From meds to acupuncture, they tried it all, but found no relief. They took a chance on Botox years before FDA approval.

“Generally, you are putting about 30 to 31 injections, needles into their forehead, temple and back of the neck,” Robert Duarte, M.D., director at Long Island Jewish Hospital, said.

Botox is a purified toxin and muscle relaxer.

“There are certain messengers that are expressed in migraine headaches. Botox onabotulinumtoxinA actually inhibits those messengers and that’s why it’s thought to work,” Dr. Duarte explained.

Relief can come in about six days, and lasts up to three months. Dr. Duarte says neck pain is the only side effect. Doctors believe it may actually be a safer option for chronic sufferers who often over-use pain meds. Since the Botox, both women still have some multi-migraine days.

“5 times a year versus 10 times to 15 times a year,” Irene said.

But there is a difference.
“We were selling fragrances and I did it. I was able to stand one of the triggers,” Sharon said.

“I feel very confident that I can get myself around and that’s a very good feeling,” Irene said.

Doctors say to qualify for the Botox migraine treatment you must have migraines more than 15 days per month, more than four hours per day, for more than three months and have tried other medications. Dr. Duarte says the entire treatment can cost between $800-$1,600, but last year’s FDA approval will make it easier for patients to get the treatment covered by insurance.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500, jcherry@ivanhoe.com.

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BACKGROUND: Migraines are more severe than a typical headache and are often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system, also may be involved. In the U.S., more than 30 million people suffer from a migraine, which means there is a migraine sufferer in 25% of all U.S. households. (Source: Mayo Clinic, migraine.com)

SMOOTHING OUT MIGRAINES: Botox has been famous for smoothing out wrinkles but has been approved by the FDA to treat chronic migraine headaches in adults. The FDA says that Botox injections have been shown to be effective in preventing the debilitating headaches, intense pulsing, and throbbing pain of migraines. Injections of Botox typically act to temporarily blunt nerve signals to certain muscles or glands.

Botox to treat chronic migraines is given at intervals of about 12 weeks as multiple injections around the head and neck to try to dull future headache symptoms. The FDA’s approval for use of Botox to fight migraines was based on the results of two studies involving 1,384 adults in North America and Europe. ( Source: WebMD)

FINALLY, SOME RELIEF: Relief from Botox treatment can come as early as 48 hours after injection, and last for up to four months. Side effects such as soreness of neck and numbness are temporary The FDA has placed a "boxed warning" on this drug reporting that its effects may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body. Other side effects can include swallowing and breathing products but the FDA says it knows of no confirmed cases of the spread of the toxin effect when used in recommended dosages. (Source: WebMD)

NOT FOR EVERYONE: Doctor's do say that Botox is not a good option for everyone who suffers from chronic migraines. Candidates for this treatment must have migraines lasting more than 15 days per month for more than four hours a day.

For More Information, Contact:

Dr. Robert Duarte
(516) 719-7246
Rduarte@lij.edu


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