by Nesreen Suwan, M.D.
Since Botox treatment for chronic migraines was FDA approved in late 2010, headache specialists have been challenged by cost and insurance coverage, two major obstacles that often stood between chronic migraine patients and relief.
Fortunately, we started seeing growing numbers of insurance companies covering Botox injection for treatment of chronic migraines, based on FDA approval, and successful clinical trials.
In clinical trials, patients were given Botox injections into specific head and neck muscles every 12 weeks.
After 24 weeks, those treated with Botox had fewer days with a migraine than those who received the placebo treatment.
By one year, nearly 70% of those treated with Botox had a 50% reduction in the number of migraines compared with before the trial.
The final results were published in the reputable medical journal Headache in May of the last year.
Injections of Botox are commonly associated with smoothing out and easing pain of wrinkles. It has been reported to be the most common aesthetic medical procedure. The initial discovery of Botox for treatment of headaches came as most medical discoveries often do, by accident, when chronic headache sufferers saw both wrinkles and headaches diminish with cosmetic Botox injections.
However, migraine authorities recommended that migraine treatment should be administered only by specialized professionals, not those who typically use it for cosmetic purposes. This is related to the fact that migraine is a neurological disorder, and there are many challenges in recognizing, diagnosing and treating migraine.
Since migraine has always been under-diagnosed and under-treated by both patients and physicians, it often takes a specialist to properly manage this debilitating neurological disorder that affects approximately 30 million Americans.
The impact of migraine is greatest between the ages of 20-50, which are the most productive years where family and professional demands are at their peak. Migraine is considered the leading cause of disability in the world, when measured by days missed from work.
Migraine sufferers may stay in bed and some will go to the hospital if the attack is severe. It has always been a dream of chronic migraine sufferers to get more headache-free days, to be able to make more plans, break less plans and be an active part of golden moments with family and friends.
For some of our patients, this dream came true when treated successfully in our clinic with Botox for prevention of chronic migraines. As a neurologist and headache specialist, I have been using Botox injection for over 15 years for many neurological conditions, including chronic headache management for over 10 years.
And now with FDA approval, the growing number of insurance companies who cover the costs of Botox injection for headache is making this dream a more accessible reality. Botox is a great option given its reasonable cost when compared to the cost of other daily headache treatments, coupled with disability and work loss caused by debilitating migraines.
With the exciting breakthrough news about the effectiveness of Botox injection in managing chronic migraines, there is no reason for sufferers of debilitating migraines to continue coping with endless side effects of daily medications.
This huge step forward in headache and migraine treatment has turned over a new leaf in the lives of chronic headache sufferers who now have the right to enjoy more crystal-clear headache-free days.
Though Botox is most famous for easing the cosmetic pain of wrinkles, now it is the time to ease the pain and burden of chronic migraines.
ABOUT THE WRITER Dr. Nesreen Suwan is a Loyola trained American Board certified physician in neurology and pain medicine, with extra certification in headache medicine, and Botox treatment. Dr. Suwan specializes in treatment of headaches, migraines and fibromyalgia. She is Director of Advanced Chicago Headache and Fibromyalgia Center in Suburban Lisle at 2867 Ogden Ave. Dr. Suwan is highly recognized as a headache specialist and she is a nationally known speaker in her field. (630) 420 8080, http://controlchicagopain.com
Headache Sufferer Finds Real Hope
As Featured In Glancer Magazine, June 2011