April 25, 2012
Can Botox Cure Migraines?
Botox may be useful for more than tightening up lose skin and wrinkles. A new study shows the main ingredient in Botox could offer some relief to those with chronic migraines. Those with less-frequent headaches, however, might not see the same benefit.
According to the study, Botox did offer relief to frequent migraine sufferers, if only moderately so.
Patients who experienced near-daily headaches reported having 2 fewer headaches per month when they were injected with Botox. These patients also experienced some side effects, such as stiff necks and weak muscles.
The study´s lead researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Jackson, from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee told Reuters, “The effect these appear to be having on migraine headaches is small – it only reduces headaches by a couple of days a month.”
It´s an improvement Dr. Jackson calls “really, really modest.”
He also admitted some migraine sufferers stand to receive more benefit from the injections than others.
To conduct their study, Dr. Jackson and his colleagues analyzed 27 prior studies in which 5,000 headache patients were randomly assigned to either receive Botox injections in the head and neck or placebo injections.
These trials turned out to be quite varied, as some researchers injected the medication into as many as 58 different locations on the patient´s body. These injections were either done at once or spread out over a month´s time.
Additionally, many of these prior studies allowed the patients to continue taking their prescribed headache medications while they were receiving the injections.
In the end, those patients with chronic headaches or migraines initially reported having an average of 17 to 20 headaches a month. Those who received the Botox injections said they experienced 2 fewer headaches 12 weeks or longer after receiving the Botox.
Conversely, those who only experienced 6 headaches per month on average reported no change in the frequency of their headaches after receiving the Botox injections.
These findings remained consistent throughout each test, regardless of dosage or what kind of injection the patients received.
Dr. Jackson and his team published their findings this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Another common factor between all participants was the presence of side effects. According to the study, about half of all participants noticed side effects during the trials. Those patients who were randomly assigned to receive the Botox injections reported were 25% more likely to report these side effects, and more often than not reported muscle weakness or neck stiffness.
While Botox is currently approved by the FDA to treat chronic migraines, it isn´t suggested for those with infrequent headaches.
The medication is often marketed under many different names, but Allergan´s Botox is the most widely known brand.
According to Allergan´s Chief Scientific Officer for Botox, Dr. Mitchell Brin, those who have been prescribed the drug to treat their chronic migraines often say they were over their headaches in a shorter amount of time. It´s a difference of 40 fewer hours a week when compared to those patients who received the placebo, Dr. Brin says.
“The impact on their lives is quite significant,” he told Reuters.
“Just looking at headache days per month may not tell the whole story.”