Marrying ophthalmology to dermatology, Jean and Alistair Carruthers observed that blepharospasm patients who received injections around the eyes and upper face also enjoyed diminished facial glabellar lines (“frown lines” between the eyebrows), thereby initiating the highly-popular cosmetic use of the toxin. Brin, and a group at Columbia University under Monte Keen made similar reports. In 2002, following clinical trials, the FDA approved Botox Cosmetic, botulinum A toxin to temporarily improve the appearance of moderate-to-severe glabellar lines. The FDA approved a fully in vitro assay for use in the stability and potency testing of Botox in response to increasing public concern that LD50 testing was required for each batch sold in the market.
“ARMR is a longitudinal study. We’re collecting data over time, which will allow us to study changes in headache patterns, health care resource utilization, diagnostic and management strategies, development of co-morbidities and responses to therapies,” Dr. Schwedt says. The registry is comprised of multiple components: The first component is an online platform in which participants fill out a baseline and follow-up questionnaires and clinicians enter the participants’ headache diagnoses. There is also an ARMR headache diary mobile app in which participants share daily information about their migraine attacks, their level of function and their treatment, if any. The third component is a blood sample, which is processed and stored in the ARMR biobank and will be used for genetic analyses. Brain imaging data are collected in the ARMR Neuroimaging Repository, and electronic health record data are pulled and confidentially entered into a centralized ARMR database. “Oftentimes, research is done in silos,” Dr. Schwedt says. “So a group at one institution is doing their own work, collecting their own data, doing their own analysis. And a group at another institution is doing their own work. That isn’t the most efficient way to move forward in the field. We believe creating and sharing data from this large and comprehensive study is really going to improve the efficiency of research in the field.”
Costs to consider: immediate out-of-pocket costs, long-term higher cost of insurance, your time, and the pain of injections. Botox for migraine costs approximately $525 per vial (100 units) and a typical migraine dose is 155 units. Depending on what your doctor charges in addition to the Botox itself, it’ll set you back $1500 – $2300 to test it out. And then there’s the needle pain. Don’t make the mistake of going to get a Botox injection if you’re in the midst of an attack, because it’ll be more painful than ever. Better to reschedule.
Ophthalmologists specializing in eye muscle disorders (strabismus) had developed the method of EMG-guided injection (using the electromyogram, the electrical signal from an activated muscle, to guide injection) of local anesthetics as a diagnostic technique for evaluating an individual muscle’s contribution to an eye movement. Because strabismus surgery frequently needed repeating, a search was undertaken for non-surgical, injection treatments using various anesthetics, alcohols, enzymes, enzyme blockers, and snake neurotoxins. Finally, inspired by Daniel Drachman’s work with chicks at Johns Hopkins, Alan B Scott and colleagues injected botulinum toxin into monkey extraocular muscles. The result was remarkable: a few picograms induced paralysis that was confined to the target muscle, long in duration, and without side-effects.
The most common side effects of Botox injections are neck pain and stiffness at the injection site. You may develop a headache afterward. You may also experience temporary muscle weakness in your neck and upper shoulders. This can make it hard to keep your head upright. When these side effects occur, they usually resolve on their own within a few days.
Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing.